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More speech therapists are needed in The Republic of Ireland to cope with the large waiting lists for treatment, children's charity Barnardo's has said.
Over 37,000 people are on waiting lists for treatment in the Republic, a fact highlighted amid almost a million citizens who are awaiting state health treatment for any form of condition. The issue has been raised by opposition party Fianna Fail.
Head of Advocacy at Barnardos June Tinsley said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) should act, noting that most of those affected by the speech therapy waiting list are children.
She told the Irish Examiner: "It came up in [the] Sláintecare [report] as well. There needs to be an additional investment in speech and language therapy right across the country.
"The suggestion was that we need to invest €5 million to recruit another 100 speech and language therapists across the country. That's what's definitely needed at the get-go."
In addition, she argued, it is important to ensure there are more opportunities for members of the public to access speech therapy services in "community settings", rather than having to go to hospitals for appointments.
Ms Tinsley also called on the HSE to carry out a review of its terms and conditions of service, to make a career as a speech therapist in the public health system more attractive.
Many speech therapists from Ireland have work overseas, such as Claire Connell, who told the Irish Times how she had originally emigrated to the US in 1992 and worked in IT before retraining as a speech therapist.
As well as trying to tempt speech therapists back to Ireland, there may be attempts to recruit from the UK after Brexit, at which point therapists from countries still in the EU may prefer to work and live in Ireland.
This option may also be attractive to Britons with Irish passports.
Written by Martin Lambert
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