“At what point is Minister Finian McGrath going to fulfil his role as Disabilities’ Minister and deal with the unacceptable delays in Assessment of Needs (AONs) to children with disabilities?” asked Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Disability, Margaret Murphy O’Mahony.
Deputy Murphy O’Mahony was commenting after receiving fresh data from the HSE on the number of children waiting for an Assessment of Need that shows that 4242 AONs are now overdue.
“To make matters worse, over three quarters are now overdue by over three months. How is this acceptable? There is a statutory obligation on the HSE, under the 2005 Disability Act, to ensure that AONs take place within three months of an application being received.
“Minister McGrath may well share my concern about this situation, but his delivery on this issue leads me to believe that he is not being forceful enough with his Fine Gael colleagues in Government.
“Last week in the Dáil, I raised the delays in AONs being completed with the Minister. While I accept that a new Standard Operating Procedure is being rolled out across the country, these delays are having a major impact on children and their families.
“Until children with disabilities receive their AON report, they are unable to receive the full therapeutic supports needed to enable them lead normal lives. However, waiting times for AONs continue to rise and in certain parts of the country, such as my own county of Cork, there are major challenges.
“Why are 50% of the total number of children nationally waiting longer than 12 months in Cork and Kerry alone?
“Minister McGrath must identify why assessments are not being completed on time and what additional resources are needed to reduce the waiting times for children and their families,” concluded Murphy O’Mahony.