Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford, Mary Butler has said that it is sickening to think that children with suspected disabilities are being forced to wait so long for assessments needed to diagnose them and get the ball rolling in terms of accessing services.

Deputy Butler was commenting after receiving a reply from the HSE regarding access to an Assessment of Need referral for a young child suspected of having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in rural Waterford.

“A referral for an Assessment of Need was made in August 2017, and it is now clear that at a minimum, they will have to wait at least another six months before he is seen.

“How is it acceptable that this young child is being forced to wait 14 months just to be seen, let along to start any treatment or receive any additional supports?

“The rules are clear – an assessment of need should be concluded within six months of the initial application but this is getting rarer and rarer due to lack of staff and resources.

“The staff in the HSE Disability Services are doing their best, and are putting in a Trojan effort to see children as quickly as possible, but the demand continues to grow.

“The HSE informed me that children referred for assessments in February 2017 are being outsourced to private providers for their assessments. This is welcome but it even with this private resource, this young lad will still need to wait a further six months. It’s not on.

“Minister McGrath needs to exert greater influence with the Department of Health, and his colleagues in Fine Gael to ensure that the required number of professionals are employed to deal with the excessive and unfair delays. This government has been in office nearly two years, and it’s worse not better, the health service is getting,” concluded Butler.