Quiet abandonment of commitments on children’s health is catastrophic

Ivana Bacik TD
22 February 2024

Questioning the Taoiseach in the Dáil yesterday, Labour leader Ivana Bacik condemned Government’s failure to address chronic issues in children’s health in this country.

Deputy Bacik said:

“It’s just not good enough for the Taoiseach to say it will take two Governments to resolve issues in children’s health.

“The Taoiseach has been in power for the last two Governments – it seems that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have accepted the chaos in children’s health as an inevitability – and this is unacceptable.

“Four years ago, Varadkar’s then Government committed to tackling issues in children’s health.

“In 2017, as Minister for Health, Minister Harris made a commitment that no child would be made to wait more than four months for surgery.

“Yet now, children are waiting longer for spina bifida or scoliosis surgery now than they were when this Government took office four years ago.

“Further, 78% of children are waiting longer than Sláintecare target times for paediatric orthopaedic in-patient appointments, and 81% of children are waiting longer than that target for inpatient urology services.

“Meanwhile, despite successive damning reports from the Mental Health Commission, Children’s Ombudsman, and others, Government continues to row back on important commitments made on improving access to children’s mental health.

“The Department of Health has now acknowledged that, in some cases, children with mental health problems will continue to be admitted to inappropriate wards. That is utterly outrageous.

“Meanwhile, almost a third of in-patient CAMHs beds were not operational in 2023 due to staff shortages. This is at the same time as waiting lists for a first appointment for CAMHS stand at almost 4,000 children as per July 2023.

“Too many vulnerable children are continuously being let down by this Government. State services should be able to intervene and provide the support and care children in crisis need. Instead, this Government has quietly abandoned parents, children and families.”

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