Barnardos is calling on the Government to urgently address the lengthy wait for some key essential health services experienced by thousands of children across the country.
Through Barnardos’ work with families we hear constantly from parents of children who are suffering while languishing on waiting lists. For these children childhood is on hold. Waiting for assessment and treatment often also means waiting to participate fully in school, waiting to develop confidence or waiting to build positive relationships with their peers. Tragically, oftentimes the longer a child waits for an intervention the less likely it is that treatment will be effective. This is particularly true for very young children whose physical, mental, social and emotional development happens at a speed not matched again in their lifetime. If children don’t receive the right treatment in time, damage is done. They won’t get another chance.
In May 2017 Barnardos released a report which highlighted worrying delays in children’s access to key health services and clear regional variations in the care that children receive. Building on this work, in December 2017 Barnardos reviewed recent waiting list data revealing the continuation of delays in Child and Adolescent Mental Health services and Speech and Language services, as well as widespread regional inconsistencies, meaning that where a child lives has a huge influence over the standard of care they receive.
In an effort to combat these long waits and to save their children from unnecessary harm, those who can afford it, end up having to pay for private consultation. We know from our research that children from low income families are far less likely to be in good health than their wealthier peers. A two-tier health system where parent’s ability to pay determines their child’s access to treatment deepens this divide and perpetuates disadvantage and inequality.
Barnardos believes accessing healthcare must be based on need - not on location or ability to pay. We will continue to monitor waiting list data and put pressure on the Government to address these unacceptable and damaging delays.
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