Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Disability Margaret Murphy O’Mahony says the government must act urgently to address the continuing delays in providing Assessments of Need under the Disability Act.

Figures reported today reveal that more than 3,850 children with a suspected disability have still not had an assessment of need carried out.

“This latest figures are truly shocking and are a shocking indictment of Fine Gael’s failure to deal with disability assessment for children.  This is an issue that I have raised time and time again – in fact earlier this year I instigated a meeting at the Oireachtas Health committee to discuss the Assessment of Need process”, said Deputy Murphy O’Mahony.

“Despite this, Fine Gael has turned a blind eye to the issue and we are seeing the number of children waiting on an assessment of need grow month on month.

“The 2005 Disability Act provides for an assessment of the needs of eligible applicants. The Assessment of Need examination must commence within three months of an application being completed and the process itself must be completed within a further three months.

“Disability Minister Finian McGrath has himself acknowledged that the waiting times are unacceptable and claims that new Children’s Disability Network Teams will address the issue. However we have been promised 129 teams every year for the past three years and every year has failed to meet that target.  In fact, just before the summer recess, when I raised the matter, there were still only 56 teams in place.

“Why has there been no progress?  Why is the Health Minister not taking up the issue?  Why are children – some who may have complex needs – not being assessed on time?

“At the Oireachtas Committee hearings earlier this year the HSE told us 400 extra therapists are required. It’s time for Fine Gael to deliver.”