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0% of Assessments of Need within statutory timeframes in Laois Offaly in 2013/14 is totally unacceptable for those with disabilities – Ó Caoláin

17 June, 2015 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has stated that disability services across the country must be prioritised after it has come to light in response to a parliamentary question by the Deputy that 0% of Assessments of Need (AON), a gateway to accessing services for children with disabilities, were performed within the statutory timeframes in Laois and Offaly in both 2013 and 2014.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

“It has come to my attention that Assessments of Need, a gateway to accessing services for children with disabilities, have been severely delayed. In Laois and Offaly between 2013 and 2014, 0% of these assessments were performed within the statutory timeframes and only 13% have so far in 2015. This is totally unacceptable.

“On the HSE’s own website, it states that ‘assessment must start within 3 months… In exceptional circumstances, the assessment may take longer than 3 months…’ Are we to believe that in 2013 and 2014, all cases in Laois and Offaly were exceptional cases?

“The AON is a gateway to accessing services. Parents need this before they can access services for their children. A cynical read of this situation would be that these assessments are delayed so that the required services don’t have to be provided until a later date.

“I was contacted recently by Laois Offaly Families for Autism, a local support group, who were concerned with waiting times and the lack of services for those with disabilities in their area. I thank them for raising this issue with me.

“I have, on numerous occasions, asked for the conclusions of the HSE’s own mapping of need exercise under the Progressing Disability Services Reform Project but I still await any answer of substance. I again call on the Minister to ensure that such a mapping exercise is done urgently so we can ensure that all children across the state are guaranteed a basic level of assessment and service. We must then build on services currently in place in an equitable way and ensure no-one suffers from a postcode lottery, something that is evidently occurring at present.” 

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