Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary has welcomed the confirmation from the HSE that three Occupational Therapy posts are to be allocated to the Mayo region to deal with the extensive backlog of children waiting for appointments. However, he has called on the Health Minister to ensure that a more long-term plan is put in place.
Earlier this summer there were 532 children on a waiting list for an appointment with an Occupational Therapist in Co. Mayo.
Deputy Calleary commented, “While I welcome the fact that the HSE has finally woken up to the seriousness of the situation here in Mayo, I am concerned that these Occupational Therapists are agency staff being employed by the health service rather than permanent, contracted staff. The waiting times being experienced by families in Co. Mayo are completely unacceptable – with over 300 children waiting more than one year for an appointment and a further 100 on a list for over two years.
“There is no doubt that these extensive delays have had an impact on the outcomes for these children. Early intervention is key in the management of conditions such as Dyspraxia, Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome and Spina Bifida, but children in Mayo have, up until now, faced lengthy delays in accessing this essential service. This has called untold stress and anxiety for families right across the county, and while the allocation of agency staff is welcome, we need full time Occupational Therapists in place to cater for the demand.
“The HSE claims that a “more permanent increase in OT paediatric therapists is being negotiated”. I would urge management to speed up that process to ensure that children and families across Co. Mayo have timely access to an Occupational Therapist and are not being forced to wait for years for an appointment”.