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(Ireland) Irish Prime Minister finds it 'impossible to explain' waitlists for SPED services

Dec 26, 2022, Belfast Telegraph: [Irish Prime Minister] Taoiseach aims to reduce wait for child healthcare and assessments by 2025

Leo Varadkar’s new unit will aim to reduce the time children have to wait to receive healthcare or be assessed for special needs.

Leo Varadkar has said he finds it “impossible to explain” why children have to wait so long to be assessed for special needs, but added that solving the issue will be difficult.

The Taoiseach also said he wants to see paediatric waiting lists reduced over the next two years, while acknowledging it will be one of the biggest challenges facing his new children’s unit….

Asked if this was part of an election strategy to take credit from their Green Party colleagues for childcare reform, Mr Varadkar said childcare was just one aspect of the unit.

“The reason why we’re establishing a unit on child poverty and welfare in the Taoiseach’s office is precisely because it is a cross-government area,” he said.

He acknowledged that Minister for Children and Green Party TD Roderic O’Gorman has responsibility for childcare, as well as child protection and youth affairs.

“The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has a huge role in making sure that families have work….

“But the fundamental role of the Department of the Taoiseach is to pull things together and to co-ordinate Government action so that is targeted….

He said reducing the cost of childcare was “the easy part” and reducing paediatric waiting lists and waiting times for assessments of special needs would be harder….

“And one of the hardest parts is going to be reducing paediatric waiting lists. And that’s something that I want to see happen over the next two years.

“And another very hard part, as well, is going to be reducing waiting times for assessment of needs and therapies.

“And as a practicing politician or as somebody who knocks on doors and talks to parents, I find it impossible to explain to them why they have to wait so long for assessments of needs, why they have to wait so long for therapies and why they feel they have to fight the state to get it half the time.

“And I could easily just say, ‘That’s not my problem, that’s a matter for Minister (of State for special education Josepha) Madigan or Minister (for Education Norma) Foley, or somebody else’, but I’m not saying that.

“I’m saying that this has to be a cross-government effort, and we have to try and make this better.

“We might not be able to make it perfect. But we have to be able to try and make it better over the course of the next two years.

“It’s not going to be all good news stories, I can guarantee you that, because this is going to be hard.”


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