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Occupational therapy assessments wait times take up to seven months

South West Londoners are waiting up to seven months to get an adult occupational therapy assessment. 

Freedom of Information requests have revealed that those living in Lambeth and Kingston had up to the longest average waits at seven months. 

People living in Merton had a wait of up to four months, while residents of Kensington had a wait of up to three months, and Hammersmith and Fulham had an average wait of two months. 

Tom Shakespeare, 55, a lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, with achondroplasia and an incomplete spinal cord injury said: “There is no realisation that a years wait is unacceptable, and there was no apology, just a ‘yup it’ll take a long time’.

Mr Shakespeare, who lives in Lambeth, said the council took a long time to return his calls. Image provided by Tom Shakespeare.

“I can’t get to my bath due to the doorway, and an Occupational Therapist would say let’s get a wider doorway and they would show how it would be done. 

“I have to haul myself in at the moment.”

Richmond and Wandsworth council refused the request, Sutton council said it did not have a waitlist to draw the information from, and Croydon council did not respond to the request. 

Mr Shakespeare, who lives in Lambeth, said the council took a long time to return his calls. 

Mr Shakespeare said: “It does not fill you with confidence, call backs take weeks to arrive. 

“I am bed bound and my fear is I can not use the bathroom due to access problems, and how can I manage for this long?

In 2020/2021, Lambeth council spent £86,580 on adults and health, and in 2021/2022, this rose to £94,009, with both years being the largest amount spent on the area. 

Also, within Lambeth’s budget for capital expenditure, £4,293 had been pledged to go towards one of the priorities of reforming commission and delivering services to provide and promote care and independence. 

Since the interview, Mr Shakespeare had received an occupational therapy assessment through the NHS neuro rehabilitation team, and grab handles and a bath board were fitted into his bathroom to make it easier to use.

“It is not the council’s fault, they are without resources due to cutbacks, it is a bigger problem.”

The private hourly rate for an occupational therapy assessment costs more as it includes the travel of the therapist, meaning most people are unable to afford it, but people are still being pushed into it.

Mr Shakepeare said: “With Covid no one has wanted to see any professional in their horse, and now there is a lot of pent up demand. 

“It is a struggle.”

Mr Shakespeare is a lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, with achondroplasia and an incomplete spinal cord injury. Image provided by Tom Shakespeare

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