The number of children waiting over three months for their assessment of needs to be completed increased by over 240 per cent in the space of a year.
Figures provided to Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane by the HSE show that nearly 5,000 children were waiting more than three months, the highest number in five years in the second quarter of this year..
However, the HSE also confirmed that there are approximately 11,666 applications overdue for completion.
An Assessment of Need identifies whether a child has a disability, the nature and extent of the disability, and any health and education needs that may arise.
Once the HSE receives an application in writing, they must start the assessment within three months and complete it within an additional three months.
However, figures released to Deputy Culinane by the HSE following a parliamentary question show that in the second quarter of this year, there were 4,972 applications overdue for completion by more than three months.
This is up from 1,449 on the second quarter of 2022, an increase of 243 per cent.
At the end of June 2023, there were 6,495 children’s assessments of need completions overdue in total.
At the end of the second quarter last year, there were 2,531 completions overdue.
The number of assessments of need completions overdue in 2023 was the highest recorded in the five years of data given to Deputy Cullinane.
In its response, the HSE said that some 7,612 applications were received between the third quarter of 2022 and the second quarter of 2023.
“This was the highest number of applications received in any 12 month period since Part 2 of the Act was commenced in June 2007,” Bernard O’Regan, Head of Operations for Disability Services at the HSE, said.
A High Court ruling in March 2022 found that how the HSE was running its assessment of needs process was not adequate.
It ruled that the preliminary process used did not comply with the disability laws.
The HSE said that this has “resulted in a growth in the numbers of overdue” assessments.
In total, it is estimated that there are 11,666 assessments of needs overdue for completion.
Deputy Cullinane told the Irish Mirror that it appears the HSE have not been able to “cope” with the High Court ruling that found that its assessments were not going far enough.
“The Government got caught out in trying to reduce the waiting list by putting in place a standard operating procedure that was a yellow-pack assessment of need,” he said.
“They were caught out, parents took them to court and they haven’t recovered ever since,
“They haven’t put in place the resources or capacity to do the assessment of need and now it has gotten worse than ever at a time when we also can’t provide services that those children need.
“The services are very stretched. The wait times for services have gone up.”
Join the Irish Mirror’s breaking news service on WhatsApp. Click this link to receive breaking news and the latest headlines direct to your phone. We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice.