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Severe shortage of Occupational Therapists must be dealt with - Spain

16 January, 2007

Sinn Féin Dublin Mid West general election candidate Joanne Spain has called on the Minister for Health Mary Harney to act urgently on the shortage of Occupational Therapists throughout the state. Spain made her call following an answer to a Dáil question made on her behalf by Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin last month, in which the HSE revealed there are only 903 OTs throughout the state, with just 433 based in the Northern, East Coast and South Western areas, which includes Dublin.

Ms Spain said:

"Occupational Therapy services are meant to help people with a physical, psychological or social disability to achieve the maximum independence in ordinary living. The Department of Health's own website states this and then goes on to say that there is a serious lack of OTs in this state.

"Any public representative or medical worker can tell you this. I routinely deal with cases of people looking for specially adapted accommodation or essential renovations in their own home, for which they must attain an Occupational Therapy report. They can be left waiting a year to even see an OT. We're talking about the most vulnerable people in society here, whether they are the elderly or physically disabled. The hardship they face during this time is heartbreaking.

"When I asked the Minister how many OTs were operating in Dublin, I received a reply from the Health Service Executive which appeared to laud the fact that the number of OTs had risen from 705 to 903 throughout the state. In the North and East coasts and the South Western area, this included the figure of 339 to 433. Incorporated in this is the densely populated Dublin, which obviously has unique population requirements with regards to the number of OTs it needs.

"In a state with over four million people, 903 OTs are nowhere near enough and the lengthy waiting lists are proof of this. I am calling on Mary Harney to immediately tackle this shortage, instead of just stating on her department website that there is a shortage." ENDS

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