"I’m left with barely any support at all", says NI teen with Cerebral Palsy on failures in healthcare system

A Northern Ireland teenager with Cerebral Palsy says she feels like she has been left with 'barely any support' from the NHS as the pressures on the service have meant she can't get the access she needs as often anymore.

Hannah McAllister, 19 explained how the current state of the health service has impacted her since she turned 18.

She said: "Since I remember I have been going to occupational therapy appointments weekly, but when I turned 18 I became invisible to the occupational therapy service as when you’re over 18 they refer you to adult services which is a disaster.” Hannah said.

“I did like going to occupational therapy as I was so determined to do the same stuff as my friends like tie my hair up, the occupational therapists supported me. But now you are being treated as a tick box and nothing more."

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Hannah expressed her gratitude to the occupational therapists and her disgust for management as she explained: “There is not enough funding to support young people like me that need this service to be able to live an independent life.”

She added: “I feel like nobody is standing on their own feet and they are just lying down to the issue.”

Hannah said: “I get very stiff, and with the NHS going the way it is I don’t think that I’ll get an appointment anytime soon”, she also said: “Don’t get me wrong I used to hate going but my muscles felt relaxed after a good session”, this suggests that Hannah sought the benefits of going to occupational therapy.

"Now I’m left with barely any support at all,” when asked why Hannah said: “It’s the lack of funding, it has to get better or else they are putting people’s livelihoods at risk.”

"People get occupational therapy for things such as car accidents, a bad break in their body, disabled people and so many more people. This service is about helping people become more independent in their lives, yet they receive little or no funding."

According to Royal College of Occupational Therapists, 2023, a workforce survey highlighted that more than “2,600 occupational therapists say there is a huge amount of pressure which is affecting their ability to provide essential services to the public”.

The survey by Royal College of Occupational Therapy in 2023 reinforces this fact by stating that “86% of occupational therapists reported an increase in demands from occupational therapy services within the last 12 months”. The survey found that “79% stated that people were presenting more complex needs due to delayed intervention, and this then leads to further complications.

According to the NHS Confederation: “NHS England and NHS Improvement Data from January 2022 estimates that over 900,000 children and adults are waiting for services as part of a community services care backlog. For community children and young people’s services, the most significant waits are in speech and language therapy, and physiotherapy.”

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