Almost 300,000 essential therapy appointments missed in first half of year

A new report reveals the extent of disruption to normal health services caused by Covid-19. Photo: iStock
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Almost 300,000 patients missed out on essential therapy appointments in the first half of the year, according to a new report that reveals the extent of disruption to normal health services caused by Covid-19.

There were 101,000 fewer physiotherapy appointments than targeted in the year to June, and 70,000 fewer speech and language therapy visits, the HSE’s latest performance report shows.

Occupational therapy appointments were 52,000 below target and thousands more appointments for podiatry, ophthalmics, audiology, dietetics and psychology were also lost.

Though almost every baby is supposed to have a development check at 10 months, only a quarter was getting one by the end of June. And despite a promise that no child would have to wait more than 12 months for access to mental health services, 224 were by mid-year.

By mid-year, the HSE had recorded a deficit of €1.2 billion, or more than 14 per cent of its total budget, according to the report.


Spending on Covid-19 came to almost €1.3 billion, including €670 million on support services such as procurement, €294 million on private hospitals and €137 million on hospitals.

Domestic violence

The pandemic is also affecting domestic violence, with women now coming forward to seek help in record numbers and reporting that they have been beaten, burned and raped, with prosecutions of abusers also increasing.

Garda sources told The Irish Times violence appeared to have “moved indoors” since the pandemic began, with street assaults plummeting but attacks in the home on the increase.

The same sources said victims were now trapped in their homes for much longer periods as many people had lost their jobs or were working from home. Furthermore, because pubs had been closed for such lengthy periods, abusers were drinking at home which often worsened the violence they were inflicting on their spouse or partner.

Information supplied by Garda Headquarters to the Policing Authority reveals assaults in the home have increased by 12 per cent since March, though assaults in public places have dropped by a third during that same period.

Under Operation Faoiseamh, a dedicated operation targeting violence in the home during the pandemic, gardaí received 22,540 reports of domestic violence and related crimes from March 12th to November 3rd, up almost 17 per cent on the same period last year.

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