Fermanagh South Tyrone Sinn Féin Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

OT Waiting List Needs Addressed - Flanagan

Published: 18 November, 2014

Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has said the Western Trust urgently needs to address the lengthy waiting lists for an Occupational Therapist (OT) in Fermanagh.
Mr Flanagan was speaking after he raised the issue with the Health Minister Jim Wells, who stated that the current waiting time is up to 44 weeks, well in excess of the 9 week target.
Mr Flanagan said:
"I am deeply frustrated at the length of time the Western Trust is taking to deal with people who require a routine visit from an OT in Fermanagh. People are regularly having to wait up to a year for an initial assessment which should only take 2 months.
"Many of these people are the same group affected by unacceptably long waiting times for routine operations such as a replacement hip or knee.
"The biggest problem at present is that the current complement of OTs is currently under resourced. There are not nearly enough OTs employed in Fermanagh and any solution to this problem must include hiring additional staff to deal with the backlog and ongoing pressures.
"More and more people want to and can live at home for longer. However, in order to facilitate that, the Western Trust must ensure that proper resources are put in place to allow people to adopt their home to suit their needs. This means employing and properly paying adequate numbers of social workers, home help staff and OTs.
"This in turn will save the Western Trust money in the long term by reducing the need for people to stay in hospital beds longer than required or than they wish.
"We need to see a complete change in how the Western Trust allocates resources on preventative approaches such as this. To date, their efforts have not met the challenges facing the health service and the population and that must change."
Notes to Editors:
Phil Flanagan MLA: To ask the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail (i) the current maximum waiting time for a visit from an Occupational Therapist in County Fermanagh; and (ii) what efforts his Department is taking to reduce the waiting time.

Jim Wells MLA (Minister for Health, Social Services & Public Safety): The Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) has advised that the longest wait for occupational therapy at 30 September 2014 was 314 days. The WHSCT has further advised that service demands currently outweigh funded staff capacity. All referrals are screened on the basis of clinical need, risk and appropriateness. Priority is given to those clients who are deemed at highest clinical risk and all other referrals are processed chronologically.
The Health and Social Care Board and Public Health Agency are currently working closely with the WHSCT to address this waiting time issue. Work is ongoing to establish the level of demand for occupational therapy services and the capacity necessary to meet such demand in line with my challenging 9 week access standard.