SDLP MLA Seán Rogers has spoken out following receipt of a response from the Health Minister in respect of welfare reform.
Mr Rogers said: “I tabled a question to the Minister for Health querying what action his Department is taking to deal with the expected increase in demand for occupational therapists following the introduction of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
“In his reply the Health Minister stated ‘The impact of PIP assessments on occupational therapy services when this replaces the existing systems for those applying for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will become more evident as the new system evolves‘.
“In other words the Department of Health is unaware of the massive increase in demand which will inevitably ensue when the benefit changes from DLA to PIP. Following a close examination of PIP and the criteria that will be used to determine an applicant’s eligibility, it is clear that the demand for OT services will rocket. This is because much emphasis will be placed on what aids and appliances the claimant has in order to cope with their own condition.”
MrRogers added: “As such it is imperative that the Department is fully equipped in advance of this benefit being introduced. Judging by Minister Poots’ response, his department is not. I have therefore submitted a further question calling on his Department to pursue this further as the claimants will suffer as a consequence of the obvious lack of communication between the Department for Health and Department for Social Development. “