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18 Aug 2022

Large number of Offaly children still awaiting disability assessment

Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin

Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin

Recently released figures from the HSE show a big jump in the number of children with disabilities denied their statutory right to a timely assessment under the Disability Act.

In the Laois/Offaly area, the total number of overdue assessments is 198. One of these is overdue because of what is categorised as ‘Exceptional Circumstances’, leaving 197 children who have not received a first assessment within the 3 month period stipulated by the Disability Act of 2005. 

An assessment of needs must commence within three months of receipt of a completed application and must be completed within a further three months.    

The number of applications for assessment under the Act has increased significantly since the Act was introduced. In 2008, 2,535 applications for assessment were received. This number increased to 5,727 in 2016.  

Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin who is Chair of the Education and Skills Committee said: “Clearly, significant challenges exist in operating the statutory assessment of need process. I have heard from very frustrated parents around the country whose children are still waiting to be assessed."

"There is a serious shortage of occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, psychologists and counsellors. Extra capacity in the system is urgently needed and I call on Minister McGrath to take immediate action to reduce these unacceptable waiting times," the Kildare TD added.

Deputy O’Loughlin went on to say, “some families have launched High Court proceedings over the HSE’s failure to complete assessments of their requirements. No family should have to go to these lengths to secure a statutory right for their children.  With 4,120 applications overdue for completion, the system is obviously failing."

"We can and must do better for these families,” concluded O’Loughlin. 

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