It has emerged that almost 1,000 children in County Roscommon are currently awaiting eye tests, local TD Denis Naughten has confirmed.
Figures released to Denis Naughten by the HSE this week show that at present 783 children are on the ophthalmic services waiting list for the Roscommon town clinic while a further 164 are awaiting ophthalmic services at the Boyle clinic. In total 947 children – or one in every 18 children in County Roscommon – are on the waiting list. This is in addition to the 267 adults in the county who are also currently on ophthalmic waiting lists.
“At present there is just one part-time ophthalmologist providing services for the whole county but to compound the problem the nurse who assisted at the clinics recently retired with no replacement appointed due to the ban on recruitment. As a result no clinics are being run, which will lead to an even greater backlog,” stated Denis Naughten.
“As a result it now seems unlikely that any further eye tests will be performed before the end of the school year. Some of these children may require referral to other specialists, which will see Roscommon children being placed at the end of a further waiting list.
“The failure to identify and treat eyesight problems in young school children will have a negative impact on their learning capabilities at school and it may also lead to social or behavioural problems, both in school and the community.
“This backlog, I understand, is leading to a three to five year wait to get called to the eye clinic. Therefore a 6th class child who cannot see the blackboard at school today will have glasses in time for her Junior Certificate exams in 2015 – if she is lucky. This is just not good enough.”
“These statistics are shocking and a damning indictment of the attitude towards the provision of local health services by the HSE,” added Denis Naughten.
“Early detection is vital in the management of ophthalmic disorders and waiting lists such as these are jeopardising the well-being of our children. The HSE must immediately intervene to appoint replacement staff and to address these waiting lists as a matter of urgency.”
Issue dated: 23 March 2012