Doubling of young people waiting longer than 12 months for OT assessment completely unacceptable

Aindreas Moynihan

Cork North West TD, Aindrias Moynihan has criticised the Minister for Disability, Finian McGrath for failing to deal with the rocketing number of Cork young people waiting more than 12 months for an occupational therapy assessment.

Deputy Moynihan raised the issue this week in the Dáil with Minister McGrath as data shows that 993 young people in Cork were waiting more than 12 months for an assessment.

“What needs to be remembered is that this isn’t 993 young people waiting for treatment, it is 993 young people waiting to be assessed to see do they need treatment.

“The number of young people waiting for an assessment longer than 12 months has doubled from August 2015 to January 2017 when fewer than 500 were on the list.

“Taken in isolation, these figures are shocking in and of themselves. However, it’s even worse when we look at the national picture. There is double the number of young people in Cork waiting for assessment longer than 12 months than in the whole of Dublin.

“Occupational therapy is vital to assist people to do the everyday things that they want and need to do when faced with illness, injury, or disability. This is even more pertinent when it is a young person.

“In the Minister’s reply, there is a suggestion that due to an increase in the number of referrals for assessment, up by 20% from January to March 2017, the surge in those waiting can be justified.

“However, this doesn’t account for the doubling of those waiting longer than 12 months from August 2015 to January of this year.

“Minister McGrath has confirmed that they are considering a pilot scheme targeted at those aged between three and five years who are waiting longer than 12 months.

“While this is a welcome development, and the pressure on some groups will be eased, it does not address the root cause of the growing waiting list. However, I am dismayed that the Minister and the HSE will not be in a position to roll it out until later this year.

“The priority being given to this issue is simply not good enough. I will continue to highlight this issue until the HSE starts treating it with the urgency that it deserves,” concluded Moynihan.