Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford James Browne says urgent action is needed to clear the waiting list for overdue Assessment of Needs appointments for children.

The Disability Act 2005 states that an assessment of need must begin within three months of a completed application being received. The assessment must be completed within a further three months.

The latest figures from the HSE reveal that at the end of March 5,083 children were overdue an Assessment of Needs appointment – that’s an increase of 42% on the same time last year.

Deputy Browne said, “No child should be waiting longer than three months for an initial appointment, yet these figures reveal that more than 5,000 children have been waiting in excess of the stated timeline. It is also worrying that there is now an upward trend in the numbers on the list; in March 2019, 3,568 children were deemed “overdue” an appointment but that had risen to 5,083 by the end of March 2020.

“There is no doubt in my mind that these figures will have increased further over the past three months given the fact that all non-COVID related appointment have been cancelled. While that was the right approach to adopt, this is deeply worrying for the children and their families which will see their AON appointments delayed further.

“Unfortunately, disability services were not prioritised by the last government. There is no excuse for children missing important assessment appointments – without these they are unable to access the care and supports they need.

“Thousands of children are being failed by the current system. We need to see a radical shift in policy to ensure that disability issues are treated with the urgency they deserve. Fianna Fáil wants to create a more inclusive society that ensures that the needs of people with disabilities are fully met – and that begins with Assessment of Needs”.