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Last Updated: Thursday, 30 March 2006, 06:05 GMT 07:05 UK
Speech therapy lists 'too long'
A child reading
Legal action over speech therapy provision is being considered
There are still too many children waiting to be assessed for speech therapy in NI, the Commission for Children and Young People has warned.

It said 2,000 were still waiting for assessment, while 3,500 who had received recommendations for therapy had not yet begun treatment.

In one area of NI, the delay between diagnosis and treatment is two years.

One year ago, the commission issued a damning report on the state of speech therapy services for those under 18.

The report looked at the length of time children wait, both to be assessed and treated, and how the wait depends on where they live.

'Window of opportunity'

Acting Children's Commissioner Barney McNeany said these ongoing delays were not good enough.

"There's a window of opportunity for a young person to receive speech and language therapy," he said.

"And we know from speaking to children and their parents that if that window is missed, it's going to be extremely difficult for that young person to pick up in the future.

"Clearly it's a huge impact on the child's development."

Mr McNeany said he was disappointed that little had changed in the year since the commission pointing out that there are huge problems in the service.

He said that the commission was considering taking legal action because the affected children's human rights to adequate health and social care were being breached.

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