‘Staggering figure’ of 2,593 local children waiting on assessments
NEARLY 2,600 children are waiting on assessments for disability services across a local HSE area, with some families waiting more than two years.
According to the HSE, 2,593 children are requiring assessments under the Assessment of Need process in the CHO7 area of Dublin South, Kildare and West Wicklow (DSKWW) – which includes communities such as Tallaght, Citywest, Rathfarnham and Templeogue.
The HSE confirmed to The Echo that 1,083 children are awaiting multi-disciplinary assessments with 115 in progress, while 294 children are requiring uni-disciplinary assessments, of which only 10 are in progress.
Some 1,216 assessments are also being reviewed.
According to the HSE: “A High Court ruling in the case of CTM and JA v HSE delivered on 11/03/2022 by Ms Justice Siobhan Phelan ruled that the Preliminary Teams Assessment conducted in accordance with the Assessment of Need Standard Operating Procedure implemented on the 15 January 2020 fails to comply with the requirements set out in Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005.
“As a result of the High Court ruling in this case, the Assessment of Need office reviewed client files from applicants who applied on or after 15/01/2020 to identify requirements for additional clinical assessment under Assessment of Need.
“This resulted in excess of 1,300 children requiring additional assessments.”
Responding to an Echo question about plans to complete the outstanding assessments, the HSE said that the DSWKK community health area received funding for an additional resource of 33 clinical posts.
These additional posts are currently being recruited and will be assigned to the completion of Assessment of Need Diagnostic Assessments.
The DSKWW Disability Services is also redirecting resources to complete outstanding assessments, looking to procure assessments from private providers and working with Primary Care to provide assessments for children whose needs are not complex.
The recruitment of two assessment officers, one is a replacement post and the other, an additional post to clear the Assessment of Need backlog, is also underway.
“We have a robust recruitment campaign in place and we are using all available resources to complete Assessments,” the HSE told The Echo.
“Once all positions are filled DSKWW Disability Services will have capacity to complete an annual total of approximately 1,860 Assessment of Needs clinical assessments.”
Dublin South West TD Sean Crowe has described the figures as “staggering”.
According to the Sinn Fein Deputy: “This is a staggering figure and is proof that this Government has utterly abandoned its responsibility towards our children.
“Some of these applications date back to January 2020 and to force a child and their family to wait that length of time just to find out if they’re eligible for supports is simply inhumane.
“We cannot have families waiting over two years just to find out if they’re allowed to join another queue to access services and to wait as long or even longer.”
He added: “Just like with the nurses, doctors and every other part of the health service, we are looking at a total collapse in the ability to recruit and retain staff.
“This is what leads to waiting lists and backlogs.”