Minister’s £1m Vow On Speech Therapy

The Government has vowed to slash the length of time children must wait for help with speech difficulties – promising no-one will wait longer than 13 weeks for assessment by 2009.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey also pledged an extra £1m to boost access to speech and language therapy services across Northern Ireland. Speaking during a debate in the Assembly on the issue yesterday, the Ulster Unionist admitted that he is not happy with the current situation.

He announced “a new challenging waiting list target for access to services for assessment and treatment” which should see no child wait longer than 26 weeks by March next year- and 13 weeks by March 2009. “Although services are improving I am not satisfied with how things are at present. I intend to ensure equality of access to speech and language therapy services throughout Northern Ireland,” he said.

SDLP Assemblyman Pat Ramsey proposed yesterday’s motion calling for extra resources and financial support which was passed unanimously.