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15 Aug 2022

'You can't defend the indefensible' - Minister for Disabilities slams HSE for delayed assessments

'You can't defend the indefensible' - Minister for disabilities slams HSE for delayed assessments

Anne Rabbitte wrote a strongly worded email to the HSE criticising the delayed assessments

Minister for Disabilities in the Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Anne Rabbitte has critcised the Health Service Executive (HSE) for an "indefensible" delay in assessment of needs for children who are now waiting an average of 17 months.

It was revealed that files had not been transferred to newly configured assessment groups, established to overhaul and ramp up the assessment of children, effectively, leaving them in limbo.

Minister Rabbitte accused the HSE of "not giving a full and true reflection of what is actually happening on the ground" adding "if the HSE is trying to deplete the minister's confidence in their ability to deliver on their commitments they are doing a very good job". 

Of the 1,270 applications for assessment received by the HSE between June and September this year, just 14 per cent were actioned and referred on to the relevant services with some areas in Cork and Dublin failing to process a single application within the three months. 

A report from each of the nine community healthcare organisations (CHOs), that the HSE is divided into, has been requested by Ms Rabbitte detailing how many of the reconfigured assessment groups have actually received files for children.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Minister Rabbitte said:

"The teams have reconfigured but they haven't handed over the files, so we have teams but we don't have files for children to match them.

"I am not a spokesperson for the HSE, I will not be an apologist for the HSE, and sometimes when things are wrong you can't defend the indefensible".

Parents are waiting an average of over 17 months for an initial assessment to identify their child's health needs, despite a legal requirement for it to be completed within six months.

In the past, children's disability services have been provided by a range of statutory and non-statutory service providers that delivered services based on a child's diagnosis or age and the level and type of service provided was widely varied across Ireland. 

Under the new system, however, every child with complex needs arising from their disability will have access to one on the 91 children's disability network teams (CDNTs)

A HSE spokesperson has said:

As part of the safe transition of children to their new teams, summary reports on individual children are transferred until electronic or hard copy files are transferred over.

"This enables CDNTs to prioritise both children in service and new children who can now access services based on complex needs for the first time", adding that during the transition to the new CDNTs, services will continue to be provided to children based on "robust risk assessments" and "prioritised needs".

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