Fianna Fáil TD for Dara Calleary has criticised the extraordinarily long waiting lists for early intervention Occupational Therapy services in Mayo. The latest information from the HSE reveals that children are waiting up to 98 weeks for an appointment with an occupational therapist.
Deputy Calleary has welcomed the fact that a senior Occupational Therapy post, which has been vacant for some time, is finally being filled but he has hit out at the length of time it has taken to recruit an occupational therapist.
“Waiting lists for Early Intervention Occupational Therapy services have spiralled completely out of control. The fact that a child would be waiting 98 weeks – almost 2 years – is appalling and goes against the premise of “early intervention”. The HSE has admitted itself that “there has been an increase both in the waiting list and the waiting time for Occupational Therapy intervention for children in Mayo Early Intervention services””, explained Deputy Calleary.
“Despite this, the HSE has been extremely slow to ensure that the staff are in place to cater for the high demand in the region. There has been a vacancy in the service for over 3 months at this point, and even though a recruitment process is underway, it will be the new year before the position is filled.
“There is no doubt that inadequate staffing levels have had an impact on waiting lists and times, and while HSE management appears to finally acknowledge the importance of having all key posts filled, that serves as little comfort to the hundreds of children who are on lengthy waiting lists.
“The HSE needs to learn from this situation and ensure that when vacancies in key early intervention services arise, they are filled as a matter of urgency. It is completely unacceptable to allow children to languish on waiting lists for months, or years, especially when the very purpose of early intervention services is to have patients seen at the earliest opportunity – not 98 weeks later”.