Fianna Fáil’s Disability Spokesperson, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony has said that the HSE and the Government must commit to dramatically reducing the time children and adults must endure to avail of basic speech and language and occupational therapies.

Deputy Murphy O’Mahony was commenting after new figures, secured by her, from the HSE show that 36,531 people were waiting for speech and language therapy with a further 32,103 waiting for occupational therapy at the end of October 2018.

“These waiting lists are a major challenge for people with disabilities, and also older people. My office regularly receives requests from assistance from parents of children or the children of elderly parents distraught at being told they will need to wait months or even years to get the treatment they need.

“Worryingly, one in four waiting for their initial occupational therapy assessment are waiting longer than 12 months with 8% of all those waiting for some form of Speech and Language Therapy appointment, assessment or treatment waiting longer than 12 months.

“Under any metric, these are scandalous figures, and underline both the significant challenges the health service is facing and the failures of government to get to grips with changing demographics and under-resourcing.

“Citizens are sick and tired of hearing the Government claim that money isn’t the problem in the health service. It’s an attempt to deflect from their failure to recruit and retain the staff needed to provide these basic services and therapies.

“When people, adults and children, receive delayed interventions, it negatively affects their quality of life, and potentially risks them not making a full recovery in some circumstances.

“We must see a better response from the Government in terms of addressing the health challenges in this country in 2019. Ministers who don’t act like commentators on the health services, and who get stuck in and take responsibility would be a good start,” argued Murphy O’Mahony.