In response to queries raised by Mr Durkan, the Western Health and Social Care Trust confirmed that children are waiting on average 177 weeks for an assessment within this service.
Said the Foyle MLA: “It is a poor indictment on our society that children with disabilities or additional needs are waiting three and a half years – bear in mind some patients will wait even longer than that- to access support provided via an assessment from Occupational Therapy.
“Access to occupational therapy is a basic and crucial right, one that should be readily available for patients, especially children who cannot afford to wait.
“These agonising waits are heart-wrenching not least for the parents and children going through it.
“Securing an OT assessment is a first and crucial step for many to access home adaptations to improve their quality of life.
“The Western Trust has among the lowest number of Occupational Therapists compared to other trust areas and this is undoubtedly affecting access. Staff are doing their best with drastically diminished resources.
“However, I fear that the denial of services will have dire, lasting consequences for the personal development of these children.
“Access to these services literally changes and empowers lives. Greater effort is needed to recruit staff and get a grip on this crisis.
“This is but a microcosm of the wider failures of the DUP’s siege of Stormont and years of mismanagement of the public purse strings of the two largest parties here.
“The reality is the younger generation, kids with complex needs and the most vulnerable citizens within our society are bearing the brunt of those failures.
“Focus needs to be firmly placed toward increasing resources to ensure children and their families can access support to help them live more independently and with dignity.”Tags: