HSE fails to process 2,500 applications for assessment of needs for children with disabilities - Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD
Sinn Féin’s spokesperson for Disability Rights and Older People, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, has this evening challenged Junior Minister Marcella Corcoran Kennedy about the failure by the HSE to process as many as 2,500 applications from parents to have their children’s needs assessed on foot of a disability, despite a legal requirement to do so within six months.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said;
“It is widely recognised that early intervention is of critical importance when it comes to improving outcomes for children with a disability. However, despite the recognition of such a need, the HSE is failing to ensure that young, disabled children receive the earliest possible intervention to give them the best start in life.
“Under the 2005 Disability Act, assessments of children’s needs must be completed within six months. The recent revelations in relation to the failure by the HSE to process as many as 2,500 applications from parents to have their children’s needs assessed on foot of a disability, despite this legal requirement, is a damning indictment of this Government.
“It goes without saying that every parent wants the very best for their child. In their desperation to have their disabled children assessed they are now being forced to go private. According to the autism charity Shine in 2014, 107 children were assessed privately but between January 1 and October of this year the number of children being diagnosed privately rose to 216.
“Needless to say private diagnoses can cost from several hundred euro to more than €1,000, a hefty sum and one that parents should not have to pay to have their child’s needs assessed.
“Equally as concerning are the claims made by Shine that no follow-up services such as speech and language therapy or occupational therapy have been available since last November to children assessed as having a need.
“I would agree with Shine’s chief executive Kieran Kennedy who said that the system had ‘gone beyond crisis’.
“This is an issue that needs to be urgently addressed, addressed now, as year on year the numbers of children seeking to be assessed is rising” concluded Deputy Ó Caoláin.