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Waiting lists for therapy services unacceptable – Louise O’Reilly TD

12 July, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Figures released by the HSE to Sinn Féin Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly regarding accessing therapies and diagnostics are a source of grave concern.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“This is an issue that Sinn Féin has been highlighting continuously - in the Dáil, through parliamentary questions and through representations to the HSE. My office is contacted weekly by people, especially parents, who have great difficulty getting appointments from the HSE with regards to diagnostic assessments and therapies. As these figures show- this is not just the odd case. This is the rule, not the exception.

“Access to therapies for children is severely restricted when we consider the waiting lists that currently exist. A cursory glance at the figures shows that children’s development is being hindered by excessive waiting times spanning over six months. We must consider that many accessing these services are in their formative years. Nationally children and young people between 5 and 18 years make up the largest cohort waiting for occupational therapy assessment. Indeed, 76% of those waiting more than 52 weeks for a first time occupational therapy assessment are in this age bracket.

“These figures show that there are unacceptable waiting lists, across all three therapies and right across the nine community health organisation (CHO) areas. 

“What is striking about these lists not only are the numbers on the lists, but the length of time people are waiting. Nationally, there are 346 people waiting for an initial speech and language therapy assessment for over a year and 1,364 waiting for initial therapy for over a year. There are 491 waiting the same time for an initial physiotherapy assessment and a staggering 4,481 waiting for an initial occupational therapy assessment.

“Extensive waiting lists for assessment and treatment, coupled with a trend of people seeking private assessments and therapies are indicative of a system that cannot cope with demand. This needs to be addressed urgently.

“When it comes to children, the under-capacity of the public system means that parents are forced to spend hundreds of euro every month on private therapy if they want to see their child have any hope of realising their individual potential. This is unacceptable and the Minister needs to increase staffing and services to ensure these waiting lists are dealt with. The new 80 primary care centres must be resourced sufficiently and we need to have additional staff employed to ensure demand is met.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: Please find attached a copy of the figures released (See attached file: PQ 17217-16  - (Deputy O'Reilly) - Therapy Waiting lists (8-7-16).pdf)

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