Deputy Barry Cowen has expressed concern at the state of children's occupational therapy services across Laois and Offaly. Deputy Cowen said that the number of children waiting for an initial assessment now stands at 1,572.
He explained: “Across all age groups there are over 2,000 waiting for occupational therapy in Laois and Offaly. Worryingly, 709 of these are children who have been waiting for over one year.
“What’s particularly galling is that none of this comes as a surprise. At the beginning of 2019 there were five vacancies in paediatric OT services in Laois and Offaly. In a response to a PQ the HSE told me that “even if all posts were filled [the HSE] is unable to meet the growing demands for services”.
He continued:“I will be raising this issue as a matter of priority in Dáil Éireann and I want to know what resources will be targeted to Laois and Offaly to reduce the waiting lists. As it stands the area is among the highest in the country for waiting lists and this must be brought under control.
“The lack of appetite of the part of the Minister for Health to get to grips with waiting lists is just shocking. Research has shown that when children receive delayed interventions, it negatively affects their quality of life, and increases their risk of not making progress or a full recovery in some circumstances".
“Despite assurances given in last year’s budget that extra resources towards children’s assessments would be provided, children across Laois and Offaly still have to wait for excessively long periods to get their first-time assessment” Deputy Cowen complained.