Assessment of Need backlog to be tackled

Children missing out on vital disability supports
  • Deborah Condon

A new €7.8 million initiative, which is aimed at clearing the Assessment of Need backlog for children, has been announced.

If a child has a disability, or their parents think they have a disability, they can apply for an Assessment of Need - a short screening assessment, which provides information on the health needs of the child and a list of services that they need.

If an Assessment of Need is not carried out, children can be left without the vital supports that they need.

The HSE is required to begin these assessments within three months of the initial request and complete it within six months. However, thousands of children are currently on the waiting list, with some of these already waiting a number of years.

In response to this, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, and the Minister of State with responsibility for disability, Anne Rabbitte, have announced a new Sláintecare initiative, which aims to clear this backlog.

Minister Donnelly noted that before becoming Minister for Health, he often highlighted the "unacceptable" waiting times for children and he said that he hopes this initiative "will improve the lives of children with disabilities in Ireland".

The work to clear the backlog will commence immediately in accordance with plans set out by individual HSE Community Health Organisation (CHO) areas.

Measures included in the initiative include:
-Clinicians working overtime in the evenings and at weekends
-The filling of posts currently vacant due to maternity leave
-The procurement of private assessments
-The recruitment of additional clinical staff for fixed-term contracts where necessary.

"I hope this announcement gives hope to families waiting for an assessment for their child. Once we clear these backlogs, I expect the HSE to meet its statutory obligations for all new referrals," Minister Rabbitte commented.

For more information on how to apply for an Assessment of Need, click here.


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