426 children waiting for Occupational Therapy appointments in Mayo

Fianna Fáil Deputy for Mayo Lisa Chambers has labelled waiting times for children seeking occupational therapy services in Mayo as appalling.

Speaking on the matter Deputy Chambers said “After a number of complaints into my office regarding waiting times for occupational therapy appointments I put a question to the Minister for Health asking for the current waiting times for an appointment, along with the number of children under 18 seeking occupational therapy services; the response I received was shocking,”

“I was informed that the waiting times for an appointment with the occupational therapy services in Mayo are based on a prioritisation system. What this means, is the services are provided on a needs basis and waiting times vary according to the client group and the clients’ needs,” she continued.

“In comparison to the Adult Primary Care service where patients may be seen within 10 days, the Paediatric Primary Care service waiting times greatly expand to one month and often much longer,” she said.

“Based on the prioritisation system, the number of patients under the age of 18 waiting 0-12 weeks for a first time assessment is 63 while 262 patients are waiting more than 52 weeks. The total number of children under the age of 18 waiting for a first time assessment in Mayo is 426,” she stated.

“Occupational therapy is vital for the development of not just the physical but also the mental health of patients seeking to avail of this type of service,” she said.

“It would be interesting to see how patients’ needs are categorised based on this prioritisation system. I have a strong inkling that patients in need of the service for mental health issues such as anxiety or depression are the ones faced with the longest waiting times,” she said.

“We cannot continue to neglect our young people, we must ensure everything possible is done to protect and nurture their needs, both physically and mentally,” she stated.

“I am calling on the Minister for Health to address the issues surrounding waiting lists for occupational therapy and to place such services high on his list of priorities,” she continued.