5 December 2020
By Tom Collins
Pádraig O’Sullivan TD for Cork North Central has called for increased resources to reduce the waiting times for Assessments of Need under the Disability Act 2005.
Those born on or after the 1st June 2002 who are suspected of having a disability can apply for an Assessment of Need (AON) under the Disability Act 2005.
The Act allows for an assessment of the child’s health needs and consists of two stages, the first stage involves a review of the referral by an assessment officer and a referral to stage 2 will follow if appropriate, which is for a clinical assessment.
Deputy O’Sullivan commented, “Disability services in Cork and Kerry have been significantly challenged in terms of the volume of applications for assessment over a number of years now. Referrals for Autism Spectrum Disorder assessments in our region are consistently among the highest in the country. Currently, there are 1005 children waiting at stage 2 of the AON process in Cork.
“A new National Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been introduced in relation to the assessment process. All applications received after the 15th January 2020 will be referred to stage 2, if appropriate, for a Preliminary Team Assessment (PTA) in line with the SOP which will give a determination of a disability and outline recommendations for interventions. Disability services are currently implementing this SOP and it is expected that PTA assessments will commence shortly.
“The Department of Health announced in September that €7.8 million is being allocated nationally under a Sláintecare initiative to address the backlog of overdue assessments under Assessment of Need. €1.2 million of this is being allocated to Cork Kerry Community Healthcare.
“However, my concern is that the new National Standard Operating Procedure will only add another layer of bureaucracy to an already inefficient system. I’m calling for more staff to be employed and more resources to be provided. This will have an actual and tangible effect on decreasing the waiting times” concluded Deputy O’Sullivan.