Declan Breathnach TD
Louth (and East Meath)

2nd July, 2018

Staff Shortages at HSE reason why 541 children/adolescents waiting in excess of a year for initial occupational therapy assessment – Breathnach

– Both of these services have experienced very significant staffing reductions in 2017 and 2018 –

Fianna Fáil TD for Louth and East Meath Declan Breathnach has said that something needs to be done to attract new staff into the HSE Occupational Therapy service after the reply to a Parliamentary Question showed just how understaffed the service is in Louth and the CHO8 region.

“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. Occupational Therapy assessment is a crucial rehabilitation process for children who may have suffered an accident or injury or who are living with a disability, or for parents who may be concerned their child is showing delays in developing some skills.

“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. This Government needs to recruit, retain, and employ more directly employed staff in the health service so that the high numbers of children being unfairly treated by the HSE can be dealt with,” concluded Breathnach.

-Ends-

Note to Editor: HSE letter attached in reply to Parliamentary Question.

Johanna Walsh, Office of Declan Breathnach T.D., Leinster House, Dublin 2 (Declan – 087 2697638)

(T) 01 6183549 (Email) declan.breathnach@oireachtas.ie