THERE IS SPACE for more psychologists in the public health care system. Both the consultant to the Paediatrics Department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), Dr Clyde Cave, and psychologist Dr Kate Herbert, expressed this view yesterday during a presentation from the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust to the Paediatric Department.

Herbert, who has been working at the Paediatric Outpatient Clinic for about six months, has a heavy workload. On a typical day she said she sees between ten to 12 families or a total of 150 children.

“There are very few paediatric psychologists on the island providing this service, so the demand is huge. Our clinic is booking about a year in advance and for young children that year can make a big difference. The earlier we can find out what is going on, the earlier we can intervene, the better the long-term prognosis,” she said.

The babies were assessed once discharged from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and referred to the outpatient clinic from around age three to have doctors check their development.

“So more publicly funded psychology positions would be a benefit,” Herbert added. Cave said children who were born premature still needed to be evaluated as they grew older. “I think people have become a little bit spoilt. We have premature babies surviving now who never used to and people take it for granted that when they come out the NICU, all will be well. But what we’re finding out is that they continue to have problems,” he added. Both spoke yesterday at the clinic where project manager at the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust, Jacquie Cuke, donated over $5000 in learning materials. They included the state-of-the-art fourth edition of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-IV) and the fifth edition of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-V). Both were valued at $2585.25. Cave said the tools were much needed as the other testing equipment used was obsolete. The equipment will now allow the doctors to screen children from younger; test how quickly they can process information; develop language and vocabulary, and gauge their ability to think abstractly. (TG)

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