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29 month waiting list for physiotherapy and occupational therapy assessment unacceptable - Reilly

12 November, 2015

Addressing the Minister of State for Primary Care, Mental Health and Disability Kathleen Lynch, Senator Kathryn Reilly highlighted the 29 month waiting times for joint physiotherapy and occupational therapy assessment in the HSE in Cavan and Monaghan.

Speaking in the Seanad, Senator Reilly said:

“My office is contacted weekly by parents of children who have great difficulty getting answers from the HSE with regards to diagnostic assessments for their children. Many of those waiting are in their most formative years. This is not just the odd case. This is the rule, not the exception.

“The fact is that because of the serious backlogs in assessments, parents whose children need urgent assessments, therapies and treatments are often forced to go private at great personal cost. They are being forced into doing this at a serious financial cost just so that their children can access these services, which are often a bridge to other services such as resource hours and special needs assistants.

“For parents and their children in Cavan and Monaghan to find out upon referral to these services that the waiting lists extend over two years to 29 months makes a mockery of the concept of ‘early intervention’.

“The HSE needs to provide a continuous pathway for children requiring specialist interventions to have access to assessments in an acceptable timeframe. By identifying a need at a young age and mapping out an appropriate care plan, a child has a much better chance of quality of life.”

Speaking after the Minster’s response, she noted further:

“The Minister mentioned that the Primary Care Division has commenced a national caseload capacity review. This needs to conclude with recommendations and action points as soon as possible. Waiting lists will not be reduced until action is taken. I welcome any review that seeks to strengthen services, especially for users, but there cannot be undue delay in actions after the review has concluded. 

“The Minister advised that there has been a 32% increase in referrals for children between 2010 and 2014 for the physiotherapy and occupational therapy service in Cavan/Monaghan. Extensive waiting lists for assessment and treatment, coupled with a trend of parents seeking private speech and language therapy are indicative of a system that cannot cope with demand. This needs to be addressed urgently.”

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