"Lack of Speech Therapy and OT in Regional WA"

About: Tom Price Hospital

(as a parent/guardian),

When my child started Kindy and we were made aware that there may be some learning issues. We have since been trying to get as much help and answers as we could. My issue is the lack of Speech Therapists and OT's we currently have. At present, we do not have an OT or Speech Therapist in town with no date on when one will be arriving. We have had many referrals in for both, but seem to be getting nowhere.

We did get to see one Speech Therapist who was very helpful, but after she left a new lady arrived. The new Speech Therapist rang advising me that she would be closing my child's case as she has seen many kids like my child before and told me she thought their speech problem was due to watching too much American TV. I found this very unprofessional for someone who had never met my child.

We should be getting the same services offered up here as anyone else.  We shouldn't have to be waiting this long without one in town helping these kids.

We are told early intervention is the key, but we can't seem to get the help that is needed.


Response from Alistair Pinto, A/Director of Business Services, WACHS-Pilbara

picture of Alistair Pinto

Dear frustrated mom 01,

We value your feedback and understand your frustration in accessing allied health services for your child. We agree that you should have access to these services no matter where you are.

In relation to your negative experience with our previous speech therapist, we do apologise for this. We would like to investigate the referral for your child, and invite you to please contact us directly at WACHS-Pilbara.Feedback@health.wa.gov.au to give us your details, so that we can follow this up.

As a population health team, we are always looking for new ways to overcome the challenges we face in delivering these services in a regional setting. Unfortunately the speech pathology position in Tom Price is currently vacant and we are doing our best to find the right person for the community. While we recruit to the position, our team in Karratha are outreaching on a monthly basis to continue to provide services to Tom Price.

This year, we have also increased our visiting occupational therapy service to Tom Price so that we outreach from Karratha on a monthly basis. This will have a positive impact on waiting times in the coming months. Additionally, where appropriate we have telehealth occupational therapy and speech pathology services to increase our capacity to deliver services across the region. We’ve received some great feedback from our remote families who have utilised this service.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to share your experience and we hope to hear from you so that we can investigate your referral and the management of the same.

Kind regards,

Dr Alistair Pinto

A/Director Population Health Pilbara

WA Country Health Service - Pilbara

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