SEXUALLY abused children who need therapy can face typical delays of up to four months in certain areas of the country – but the wait can be up to two years.
A review of therapy services commissioned by the HSE found some waits are justified and viable because the child may not be ready for therapy.
"Wait times varied significantly depending on the therapy required, whether it was provided by the HSE or other providers, and the geographical region," it added.
Dr Derek Deasy, clinical director of St Clare's unit, Temple Street Hospital in Dublin, told the Irish Independent that "if a child is abducted and is thought to have been sexually abused, it is imperative that the appropriate response is agreed.
"This should be carried out at an emergency inter-agency meeting attended by representatives from the HSE, the gardai and a unit such as St Clare's, if available."
He said it was estimated that 120 to 140 children, where sexual abuse was a concern, were seen in St Clare's Unit annually.
"There is one child on the waiting list at St Clare's for assessment, six children are about to transition from therapeutic assessment to therapy and three children are on the waiting list for therapy," he added.
The Temple Street unit provides an integrated therapeutic assessment and therapy service for children where sexual abuse is a concern.
A spokeswoman for Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin said there were just over 200 children receiving therapy for sexual abuse in St Louise's unit.
Three children are on the waiting list and the delays are "unique to the child's circumstances". She added that "any child in urgent need of therapeutic intervention receives it".
The HSE review also found there were delays in the initial assessment needed by a child suspected of being abused.
The longest reported was six weeks and there are no formal services in place for children and families at this time, although they may be helped by voluntary organisations such as the CARI Foundation.
It recently emerged that the CARI Foundation had to close its Cork service, reducing the available therapy to children by 7pc and leaving waiting lists of 50 young people at the end of the year. It is the only specialist therapy service for child victims of sexual abuse in the region.
The review found that there were even fewer services available to those children and families where the case was seen as "inconclusive".