Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West Jack Chambers has called for immediate action to tackle the massive waiting lists for motorised wheelchairs.
Figures released to Deputy Chambers reveal huge variations for the waiting times in community health areas across the country for applications for the life changing equipment to be processed.
Deputy Chambers commented: “While there will always be some delay in carrying out assessments and processing applications for these chairs, these figures are totally unacceptable and are very alarming.
“Most worrying is the increase in waiting times in some areas; in my own constituency of Dublin West, people can be left waiting up to 8 months for a motorised wheelchair.
“In 2012, the average waiting time was up to 7 months. However this year, people who are incapacitated and desperately require a motorised wheelchair can now be waiting two years for their application to be processed. I have also been made aware of cases where people have been waiting up to four years for a motorised wheelchair.
“The fact that vulnerable people, many of whom will be entirely incapacitated without a motorised chair, have to wait so long is a sad indictment of our health service.
“People who require such equipment consistently tell me of the importance of motorised wheelchairs in allowing them to maintain their independence and dignity.
“For many, a motorised wheelchair is the difference between going to the local shop or visiting family and friends, and remaining stuck indoors and entirely cut off from the outside world.
“It is clear to me that more resources are urgently needed to correct this problem.
“I understand much of this relates to a shortage of occupational therapists to carry out assessments. While I very much welcome the occupational therapy posts which have been allocated to the disabilities sector over 2015 and 2016, efforts to actually fill these posts needs to be ramped up immediately.
“He concluded, “I am calling on Minister McGrath, who has responsibility for this area, to address these delays as a priority. This issue is too important for the welfare and independence of vulnerable and must be addressed now.”