Cork South Central TD, Michael McGrath has said that there is a crisis in paediatric occupational therapy (OT) in Cork with 51% of all children on the waiting list waiting longer than 12 months for an appointment.

Deputy McGrath was commenting after raising the issue with the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD by way of a parliamentary question.

“I have received a significant number of queries from parents of children in need of OT. They just don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to their child receiving the support they need. In many cases, these are children with disabilities where OT intervention is vital to support a child going to, or continuing in school, and improving overall quality of life.

“At the end of August 2018, there were 2,616 children and adolescents in Cork City and County waiting for a paediatric OT appointment. A total of 1,354 of these were waiting longer than 52 weeks which is completely not acceptable.

“The HSE in Cork seems to have significant issues by way of providing services to its people, and in particular children. In terms of accessing mental health services, speech and language therapy, special needs assessments and now occupational therapy, children in Cork seem to fare worse than children in other parts of the county.

“I welcome the confirmation from the HSE that an additional six paediatric occupational therapists have been allocated to Cork City and County. While this is a positive step in accepting the scale of the challenge in terms of long waiters, we all know that recruiting health staff is incredibly difficult at present.

“We need an urgent response from the HSE outlining how quickly these long waiting times will be dealt with. Behind every number is a child and their family anxiously waiting for treatment.

“Sanctioning additional staff is one thing, but the focus must be on recruiting them to start as quickly as possible to start dealing with these unacceptable waiting lists,” concluded McGrath.