Long wait for speech ex­perts

Pilbara News - - News - Court­ney Fowler

The State Gov­ern­ment must do more to en­sure the 39 chil­dren on the wait­ing list to see a speech pathol­o­gist in Tom Price have ac­cess to es­sen­tial ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to the La­bor Mem­ber for Min­ing and Pas­toral Stephen Daw­son.

There is an ac­tive caseload of 108 chil­dren who are el­i­gi­ble to ac­cess Gov­ern­ment-funded speech pathol­ogy ser­vices in Tom Price.

In Par­lia­ment last month, Mr Daw­son ques­tioned the par­lia­men­tary sec­re­tary rep­re­sent­ing the Min­is­ter for Health about the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of speech pathol­ogy ser­vices in the Pil­bara.

In her re­ply, Alyssa Hay­den re­vealed speech pathol­ogy ser­vices in Tom Price had ex­pe­ri­enced dif­fi­cul­ties re­cruit­ing and re­tain­ing staff.

Con­se­quently, she said cov­er­age for ur­gent re­fer­rals had been pro­vided by the near­est speech pathol­o­gist in New­man, more than three hours drive from Tom Price.

She added that the long­est wait­ing time to ac­cess speech pathol­ogy ser­vices in Tom Price was 132 days.

Mr Daw­son said it was “un­ac­cept­able” for a child to have to wait more than four months to ac­cess ser­vices.

“By the time pa­tients are get­ting ac­cess some of these ser­vices, it’s ac­tu­ally too late for your chil­dren,” he said.

“These kinds of early in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices can have such a big in­flu­ence on a child’s fu­ture and in­volve­ment in a class­room.

“With more af­ford­able hous­ing and a less heated eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment, the Gov­ern­ment should be able to at­tract and keep spe­cial­ist med­i­cal staff.”

Pil­bara Pop­u­la­tion Health WA Coun­try Health Ser­vice act­ing di­rec­tor Deanna Ex­eter said the wait­ing times for speech pathol­ogy ser­vices across the re­gion had fallen from three to two months in the past year.

She said the num­ber of chil­dren on the list had de­creased since this time last year from 258 to 205, ser­viced by eight full-time speech pathol­ogy staff through­out the re­gion.

Ms Ex­eter said pri­or­ity for ser­vices was given to chil­dren aged from birth to three, the age group where the great­est im­pact was achieved.

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