Labour TD Ged Nash and Councillor Emma Cutlip.
“Children with autism and a range of other disabilities in County Louth are being failed by a system that is creaking at the seams.” So says Labour TD, Ged Nash quoting figures obtained recently which show that the provision of disability services in County Louth is at crisis point.
Deputy Nash said: “I and my colleagues in the Labour Party recently obtained figures relating to the provision of disability services across the country and I am shocked to find that Louth is among the worst performing counties in the country.
“Even getting up-to-date figures for service provision in the county has proved challenging but end of year figures from 2022 show that the availability of occupation therapy, for example, is almost non-existent in Louth.
“At the end of last year there were some 104 children under five-years-old waiting more than a year for their first assessment for occupational therapy and a shocking 564 children, over five-years-old were waiting more than 12 months for their first assessment.
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“At the root of the problem is staffing. Out of six full-time occupational therapy posts in County Louth, there are a staggering 5.5 vacancies. Essentially, there is half an occupational therapist covering the entire county.”
“This is an intolerable situation that is leading to untold misery up and down the country and in a bid to address it, the Labour Party will this week bring a motion to the Dáil to radically overhaul the provision of disability services in the country.
“The system is failing the children it was set up to help and the government needs to wake up to this growing crisis and address it.
“Our motion would give financial assistance to families struggling to access public services for their children, who have been forced to seek private care.
“It will also hold the HSE accountable for shortfalls in the service and help to address the staffing crisis in the service as well as introducing a National Autism Strategy underpinned by legislation and a full review of the Disability Act.”
Drogheda Labour councillor, Cllr Emma Cutlip has first-hand knowledge of the problems accessing disability services in County Louth.
Cllr Cutlip is a mother of two children with additional needs and one of her children is among the hundreds on a waiting list for disability services for the local Children’s Disability Network Team (CDNT).
“The CDNT system is failing our children, failing parents and failing the clinicians who want to help us” she said.
“These figures are shocking – even though they are out of date – but they are utterly unsurprising to those of us whose children are still waiting for occupational therapy. Our children are being left in distressing states of sensory overload.”
Cllr. Cutlip concluded: “It is obvious to me as a parent of a child on CDNT waitlists, that these figures are severely out of date and that the situation is currently even worse than presented.”