'If you need a stair lift, wet room or a raised toilet seat, you’re going to be waiting a very, very long time'

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Derry City and Strabane will seek a meeting with the Western Trust and Department for Health (DoH) about the “completely unacceptable” wait times for Occupational Health services.

At a reconvened Full Council Meeting on Thursday, May 30, SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell proposed a meeting around plans to “improve access to these much-needed services” .

Councillor Farrell said: “The current waiting time to access Children’s Occupational Therapy Services and Community Occupational Therapy Services across the Western Trust are completely unacceptable.”

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“If you need a stair lift, wet room or a raised toilet seat, you’re going to be waiting a very, very long time.

DUP Alderman Niree McMorris, SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell and Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly have all expressed concerns.DUP Alderman Niree McMorris, SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell and Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly have all expressed concerns.
DUP Alderman Niree McMorris, SDLP Councillor Rory Farrell and Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly have all expressed concerns.

“The waiting time from referral to assessment – someone coming out to see what you need – is 18 months for an adult. For a child it’s a shocking four years.

“This is about aids that can make somebody’s life more manageable and bearable, but the timescales are absolutely ridiculous.

People have asked me why they have to wait so long and I can’t give them an honest answer.

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“I don’t know if it’s to do with the budget, workforce planning, recruitment, retention, or staff absences, but I know people are being failed miserably.

“So we would like officials to come to council and explain why people are waiting so long and, more importantly, tell us what they’re going to do to make these services more accessible.”

DUP Alderman Niree McMorris said she had recently contacted the Western Trust about Occupational Therapy services and received some “staggering figures”.

“The waiting list for Community Occupational Therapy is currently 150 weeks, with 2,611 total patients on the waiting list,” she said. “And for paediatric therapy the wait is 204 weeks, with 875 patients on the list.

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“We welcome any input from the Western Trust, but we have to ask the Minister for Health [Mike Nesbitt] to bring forward a plan to reduce waiting list times."

“I’m not sure how the Western Trust performs compared to the rest of Northern Ireland, but those are the kind of questions I look forward to asking when they come in.”

Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly said the wait times were “part of a broken system”.

“People are in pain and struggling to get about and it’s down to waiting lists and lack of investment in proper services,” Councillor Donnelly concluded. “So I’ll be happy to address why with those responsible.”

Andrew Balfour,

Local Democracy Reporter.