Monday 10 December 2018

Call for action to recruit staff for occupational therapy

Louth TD Declan Breathnach has called for action in recruiting new staff into the HSE Occupational Therapy service, after latest figures revealed long waiting lists for the service.

'Currently there are 541 children and adolescents waiting in excess of a year for an initial occupational therapy assessment. This is extremely worrying and frustrating for parents who know how important it is to have early intervention,' said Deputy Breathnach.

'Forcing children and their families to wait considerable lengths of time to have an assessment of their needs could pose serious issues for their development and quality of life. By leaving these children without initial assessment, their symptoms are being exacerbated.'

'I have been told that in Louth and the CHO8 area, only 6 out of a total of 14 full time posts have been filled which represents on average a 60% staffing reduction. In 2018 to date, within the Primary Care Paediatric services, there has been on average 29 new referrals per month, but the service only has capacity for 16 new referrals per month, having only a full time staff complement of 1.5 responding to both new referrals and open caseload needs. This is unacceptable. No explanation can justify continually jeopardising the healthy growth and development of Irish children. This Government is failing to deal with the staff shortages crippling the HSE and are instead relying on costly agency staff to fill the gap.'

He said there was an urgent need to 'recruit, retain, and employ more directly employed staff in the health service.'

The Argus