Eastwood: Waiting crisis is impacting children’s lives

Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP has said that the waiting list crisis is having an immense and immediate impact on the lives of children across Northern Ireland.

Monday, 7th June 2021, 9:28 am
Foyle MP, SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood.

The latest information available from the Department of Health shows that 5,124 children are waiting for an autism assessment following a referral.

A further 2,581 children are waiting for an ADHD assessment with waiting times in some trusts exceeding 230 weeks (4.5 years).

The Foyle MP said that political leaders must intervene to provide thousands of children with the support they need.

Colum Eastwood MP, said: “All of the global available evidence from educational leaders and experts in child development tells us very clearly that early intervention and support is critical to providing children with the best chances in life. Yet across Northern Ireland today, there are thousands of children and young people waiting, many of them for years, on assessments for autism and ADHD who are not getting the support they need and deserve.

“The waiting list crisis goes far beyond our hospitals, it has infected and affected every aspect of health and is threatening the educational opportunities of our children. We cannot allow that to continue.

“The SDLP has been talking to the families of children with special educational needs. We have heard painful testimony from parents at their wit’s end because they feel like the system is deliberately denying their children the support that they need. The pandemic has only made things worse.

“I have said that we will support the Health Minister to deal with this crisis. We should all take the politics out of health but that doesn’t mean we can stand idly by while the waiting pandemic affects so many. What we need, and what the SDLP has called for is a funding plan from Finance Minister Conor Murphy to create capacity in the system.

“The leaders of the DUP and Sinn Féin are both former Health Ministers. They have held the positions of joint First Minister for 14 years. We have had report after report telling us what needs to be done. It’s about time we had a funded action plan to deal with this crisis. It is the number one political priority for the SDLP and we will continue to pursue action.”