Waiting list for therapy

29th August 2003 at 01:00
GROWING numbers of children with complex needs and autism have stretched therapy services to breaking point, a Scottish Executive-led review has concluded.

Researchers from Queen Margaret University College in Edinburgh found that around 50,000 children are on the books of occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech and language therapists in both the health service and local authorities.

Those in rural areas wait the longest, as do those who speak minority languages. In April last year, there were 1,809 children waiting to see an NHS occupational therapist, 300 waiting to see an NHS physiotherapist and 3,472 waiting to see an NHS speech and language therapist. Education departments currently fund a third of referrals but in Greater Glasgow this rises to 60 per cent.

The review highlights continuing conflicts between the NHS and education services as more children are educated in mainstream classes. NHS managers told researchers that they have "major concerns" about delivering a service when children could be spread over a wide geographical area.

NHS managers and education officials highlighted the lack of suitable rooms. Sometimes therapists used the medical room, the gym or any other area that was free.

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