100,000 waiting for speech and language therapy, OT or physio

HSE confirms 15,359 waiting for first assessment for speech and language

More than 100,000 people are on waiting lists for speech and language therapy, occupational therapy or physiotherapy, latest figures show.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) said there were 15,359 people in February this year queuing for a first assessment for speech and language difficulties.

Another 8,151 who were assessed have been moved on to waiting lists for a first appointment for actual therapy. A further waiting list for follow-up therapy has grown to 14,796.

Separately, there are 31,377 in queues to see an occupational therapist for the first time, and another 33,561 patients who have yet to be assessed by a physiotherapist.


Margaret Murphy O’Mahony, Fianna Fáil’s disability spokeswoman, who obtained the figures, said the HSE has yet to disclose numbers waiting for follow-up occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

“I am particularly concerned about the speech and language figures as they show a very big increase relative to January 2019,” she said.

“The numbers waiting for a first assessment went from 13,590 to 15,359 in a month.

“For initial therapy the numbers went from 7,499 to 8,151 and for further therapy from 13,350 to 14,796.”

As of the start of April, only 20 of 100 promised new therapists to assess children with disabilities had been recruited, according to official figures also obtained by Ms Murphy O’Mahony.

The HSE said it will be the end of the year by the time all 100 posts announced in the last Budget would be in place.

“This is very disappointing as given the increases in waiting lists that we are seeing, these posts are urgently needed now”, said Ms Murphy O’Mahony.