Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has described the waiting list for accessing occupational therapy as spiralling out of control.

The Sinn Féin TD said approximately 30,000 people are now waiting for their first assessment for occupational therapy. This is an increase of 9,675 people, or a 48%, on the amount of people on the waiting list in August 2015.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Access to occupational therapy should be readily available basic support for any functioning health service, but for many Irish citizens it is increasing becoming a luxury. An occupational therapy assessment is a critical first step in the recovery process for anyone wishing to access supports in the health service, but the numbers and waiting time is getting longer every year.

“According to the latest figures released for the month of May of this year, 29,688 people are waiting on a first time consultancy. This is 9,675 more people, or 48%, than were waiting for a first time consultancy in August 2015.

“Children and teenagers make up the biggest group of people awaiting their first assessment and this stands at 14,594, nearly half the current waiting list. One in three injured or disabled children have to wait over 12 months for the same occupational therapy assessment.

“Vulnerable senior citizens fare no better, with the number on lists trebling over the same two year period from 414 to 1,266.

“There is also the added difficulty of wide gaps in services with some areas suffering even longer timescales because of their location or the lack of trained personnel in that region.

“Aspects of the current health system are broken and the difficulty around accessing services like an occupational therapist is just part of a growing problem. The big worry for anyone trapped on this lengthening waiting list is that there doesn’t appear to be any HSE plans or proposals in place for next year. The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, needs to urgently address this situation, which is clearly spiralling out of control and impacting on more and more Irish citizens.”