Charity urges €265m spend to clear waiting list backlogs
Children's charity Barnardos has called on the Government to spend €54m each year for the next five years to clear waiting lists and ensure children have access to vital health assessments and treatments.
In its pre-Budget submission, the charity said it had found huge regional variations when it came to accessing health services.
Recent research found more than 100 children in the Cork/Kerry region were waiting more than 12 months for an initial assessment by mental health services, whereas in Clare/Limerick/Tipperary no one waited more than a year.
"These inconsistencies are extremely worrying. Where you live should not determine how quickly you can get help for your child when they need it," said the charity.
It said spending €265m over the next five years would ensure a full complement of early intervention staff of 3,885 and clear backlogs to see occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and child psychologists.
It also called for an extra €20m to be allocated to Tusla's budget and said this should be ring-fenced for preventative work to ensure children within the care system, or who are at risk of going into care, can remain with their families.
It also said an increase of 1.1pc in the education budget (€103.2m) would finally see truly free primary education. This would amount to an extra yearly cost of €185 per pupil. It would provide for all textbooks and workbooks, remove the need for parents to pay voluntary contributions, would provide free transport for those availing of the School Transport Scheme and restore capitation rates back to 2010 levels.