Deputy Broughan has been consistently raising the issue of the long delays for parents in accessing an assessment of needs for their children, when required. Deputy Broughan has represented many constituents who have been concerned and upset at the lack of early intervention assessments. The HSE has a statutory obligation to complete Stage 1 of the assessment process within 3 months of receiving an application. Figures released recently to Deputy Broughan show that the average length of time to complete an assessment of need stood at 18.48 months in 2018 and that there were 3,611 overdue applications at the end of 2018.
Figures in a PQ reply to Deputy Broughan from the HSE show that there were 3,563 applications overdue for completion at the end of 2016 and this had risen to 4,067 applications overdue for completion by the end of 2017. At the end of Quarter 1, 2018 there were 4,104 overdue assessment across all CHO areas (with Area 4 by far the worst affected at 1,771); at the end of Quarter 2, 2018 there were 3,910 overdue (with Area 4 remaining the worst affected at 1,571); there were 3,720 overdue assessments at the end of Quarter 3, 2018 (1,192 in Area 4) and 3,611 overdue assessments at the end of Quarter 4, 2018 (with 1,013 in Area 4). Areas 6 and 9 seem to have worsened most over 2018 where Area 6 jumped from 59 overdue in Quarter 1 to 103 at the end of Quarter 4 and Area 9 increasing to 659 by the end of Quarter 4 (up from 531, 442 and 595 in each of the other quarters respectively). The PQ reply also states that “applications that were put ‘on hold’ are not included in this table.
Shockingly the average length of time to complete an assessment of need has almost doubled from 9.5 months in 2010 to 18.48 months in 2018.
Deputy Broughan says “When you look at the numbers of people awaiting assessment and the huge delay in completing assessments, it is surprising to see that just 37 applications for Judicial Review were sent in during 2018. The HSE’s reply also said that the clinical teams who are carrying out the assessments are the same teams who deliver the necessary interventions. CHOs are expected to put processes in place to ensure that they are complying with the Assessment of Needs timeframe and the reply says that additional resources are required. A different PQ reply regarding the waiting times to access early intervention teams in Dublin 5, 13 and 17 stated that the “current longest waiting time for children to access services for the Early Intervention Team in North County Dublin is up to thirty two months”. 32 months is not early intervention at all – it is deplorable. All areas of our health and disability services seem to be drowning in an environment of growing need and under-resourcing and Fine Gael just have not got a handle on it. In the meantime, it is the children, parents and patients suffering.”