Only four occupational therapists for 690 children on waiting list

by Ian Begley
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There are currently just four occupational therapists available in Dublin Mid-West for the 690 children with an intellectual disability who are currently on the waiting list.
In response to a parliamentary question by local TD Gino Kenny (PBP) on how many speech and language therapists and occupational therapists are available to children with an intellectual disability in the Dublin Mid-West constituency, the HSE confirmed that there are currently just four occupational therapists in the post.
Two additional therapists have been promised later on this month and another in September, 2016.
Deputy Kenny was also informed that 690 children are currently on the occupational therapy waiting lists with times of up to 18 to 24 months from the date of referral.
There are also currently just seven speech and language therapists in post in the area with 363 children on the waiting list of up to 12 to 18 months from date of referral.
Responding to these figures, Deputy Kenny said that: “These waiting list figures are pretty damning, particularly for families and children who need to access services that are absolutely vital.
“Early intervention is key for a child at a young age to access these services.
“A year-and-a-half to two-year waiting list will have a detrimental effect to that child’s ability to develop at that young age.
“Time is of the essence and these waiting lists are simply not acceptable.
“There should be no more than a three-month wait for speech and language therapy and we’ll be calling on the relevant Minister to address this issue. I aim to make this a very important political issue in the course of this Dail. It’s in everyone’s interests in Dublin Mid-West that these waiting times for these vital services are cut dramatically for early intervention.”
Nationally, more than 15,000 were waiting for a speech and language therapy assessment at the end of last year.
This represents a 20% increase in the waiting list during 2015. The data also show the longest waits are in the poorer parts of Dublin and the commuter belt, with the shortest in sparsely populated rural areas and wealthier parts of Dublin.
People Before Profit is organising a special meeting on the chronic waiting times for these vital services on Saturday, May 28 at 3pm in Ballyowen Castle Community Centre.
Speakers will include Dr Peadar O’Grady and other medical professionals.

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