HSC: A lack of therapists nationally
HEALTH & Social Care has apologised to parents and young people affected by recent challenges surrounding the provision of occupational therapy services.
‘Despite significant efforts to respond to an increase in demand for the service and recruitment and retention challenges through changes to delivery models and the appointment of locum staff, it has unfortunately been necessary to temporarily target those service users with the most complex needs and those at risk of immediate harm or injury to themselves or others,’ a spokesman for the committee said.
‘Several measures have been implemented in order to support service users and help manage the demand on the service, such as monthly consultation and advice clinics for parents and teachers, provision of online resources, assessment clinics, and training evenings for professionals and support staff.
‘For those children and young people who require specialist intervention to resolve their underlying difficulties, weekly individual programmes of intervention are provided.
‘Once this is completed the service user is discharged and may be re-referred if further support is needed in the future.’
As well as the increase in demand on the service, Guernsey experiences significant difficulties recruiting and retaining experienced children’s occupational therapists to work in the island which the committee said, in part, was due to a shortage of therapists nationally.
‘Whilst the service continues to actively recruit permanent staff, HSC recognises the unprecedented demand on the service and has agreed to ongoing funding to provide locum cover.
‘Whilst we endeavour to provide continuity in care, locum cover is unfortunately often generally short-term in nature, which may leave gaps in service provision.’
In an attempt to be transparent, a letter is said to have been sent to all referrers and parents of children on the waiting list for assessment and those currently in receipt of occupational therapy services to explain the delay.