Cambs occuptional therapy waiting times still unacceptable

SEVEN months after a Hunts Post report that people with disabilities were waiting up to two years to be assessed for adaptations to their homes, the delays continue at unacceptable levels. While 200 Huntingdonshire occupational therapy assessment cases h

SEVEN months after a Hunts Post report that people with disabilities were waiting up to two years to be assessed for adaptations to their homes, the delays continue at unacceptable levels.

While 200 Huntingdonshire occupational therapy assessment cases have been moved to neighbouring districts, the waiting times for less serious cases remains high - and the tactic has pushed up wait times in other districts.

The problem was brought to light last year by the Freemen's Charity in Huntingdon which said it was paying for private assessments by occupational therapists because so many needy people faced long delays.

On Tuesday the charity said little had changed and people were still waiting to find out if they would be able to have life-changing alterations made to their homes.


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Chairman Ted Bocking told The Hunts Post: "We are extremely disappointed that there has been very little improvement since we made our complaint. Certain parts of the county receive better OT services than others and this is to the detriment of the people of Huntingdonshire."

In the past six months, the charity has been approached by three disabled people all facing a 47-week wait for assessment. In one case this was reduced to 25 weeks.

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A report presented on Thursday to Cambridgeshire County Council's Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee shows that little progress has been made on waiting times.

The report does state that the number of people waiting in Huntingdonshire was reduced between the end of October and the end of December (as other areas helped with the backlog). Priority two cases went down from 244 to 183 people and priority three cases from 331 to 228.

However, Huntingdonshire residents will wait longer than any other in area of Cambridgeshire for assessments.

In Hunts a priority two patients will wait 36 weeks. Six weeks longer than South Cambs and 23 weeks more than Cambridge. Priority three patients wait 45 weeks in Hunts, 10-weeks longer than South Cambs and 30 weeks more than those in the best performing area, Fenland.

Alison Gilbert, associate clinical director at Cambridgeshire Community Services, said priority one patients were dealt with quickly - one to three days - but added: "Patients with less urgent needs (priority 2 or 3 cases) experience longer waits for their assessments and we apologise for this."

She added: "In Huntingdonshire referrals for occupational therapy assessments have risen by 50 per cent in the last 12 months and this has had a significant impact on waiting times.

"Two and a half whole time equivalent occupational therapists (OTs) were appointed within the Huntingdonshire team in 2009, and a further whole time OT team leader is currently being recruited.

"Maximum waiting times at December 2009 have reduced from 36 to 23 weeks for priority 2 cases at the end of January 2010 and 45 weeks to 33 weeks for priority 3 cases.

"Many factors impact on occupational therapy waiting times in the community. Examples include pressures in acute hospitals leading to more people needing OT in the home setting to avoid a hospital admission."

She said a working group had been established, chaired by Huntingdonshire District Council, to develop an action plan to continue to reduce waiting times.

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