MORE than 1,000 children in Cork are waiting more than a year for their first occupational therapy assessment.
Over 5,500 children were waiting for longer than a year across Ireland, up by almost 2,500 since the same 2015.
The figures revealed that 37 children in Cork under the age of four were waiting more than 12 months for their first occupational therapy assessment.
Dr Judith Butler, an Early Years Education expert in CIT said waiting such long periods for assessment and then treatment can have a detrimental impact on children's quality of life and their treatment outcomes.
“Occupational therapy is hugely concerned with helping people to participate in, and retain the ability to participate in, everyday life," she said.
“This is even more pertinent for children. It is alarming to think that our children are on waiting lists for an initial assessment never mind treatment.
“Early interventions are more effective and successful,” added Dr Butler.
“Dealing with any disability in a timely fashion offers a far greater likelihood of more significant and rapid improvements.
“Waiting lists may cause a child's holistic progress to halt or even regress, which is far more difficult to resolve later.”
Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher said the delays are a major concern.
“This is putting people’s lives on hold as they wait for an assessment.”