The government has been accused of ‘shitting away from its responsibilities’ for the care of children with additional needs by a local TD.
The comments were made by Sinn Féin disability and carers spokeswoman Pauline Tully TD, who further claimed the waiting list figures were “hidden” rather than reduced.
Deputy Tully was speaking as she appealed for cross-support for her motion, which will be presented to the Dáil on Tuesday, which aims to remove the barriers put in place that prevent parents from accessing the care their children need. .
She added that despite government claims, waiting lists have not been reduced and are in fact hidden.
“Waiting lists for needs assessments have been spiraling out of control for years to the point where parents are forced to take the HSE to court to have their child assessed,” Deputy Tully said.
“The Minister [Stephen Donnelly] said waiting lists are significantly reduced. The reality is that this has been an exercise in deception.
Smoke and mirrors
“Waiting lists have not been reduced, they are hidden.
“Changes implemented that the government says would make it easier to get assessments done in a timely manner have not done so, nor have they reduced waiting lists for children to receive a full assessment of needs.
“Instead, what has been introduced is a very short preliminary assessment which, when completed, places children on another waiting list for further assessment from which there is no legal obligation. for the HSE to complete within a specific time frame.”
Deputy Tully’s Bill points out that the needs assessment process took an average of 29 clinical hours before the introduction of standard operating procedure (SOP) which limited clinical time to 90 minutes, “a reduction in 99.95% of clinical hours for an assessment, which the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission says ‘undermines the rights of people with disabilities’,” she observes.
“The figures released by the Minister claiming that a significant number of children were receiving assessments in fact reflect only the children who received this short and inadequate preliminary assessment.
“It’s smoke and mirrors. These kids aren’t getting proper assessments and don’t have access to the therapeutic interventions they need.
“It is a cynical act to shirk responsibility for protecting children’s rights.”
Broken Disability Service
Deputy Tully explained that under the Persons with Disabilities Act 2005, children have a statutory right to a needs assessment, which must by law be carried out within six months of a request.
“The government is far from fulfilling its legal obligations to protect children’s rights, nor does it have the inclination or vision to fix our broken disability service,” she said.
“On Tuesday, Sinn Féin will table a motion on the issue of needs assessments within services for children with disabilities and lack of access to therapeutic interventions.
“I urge all TDs to support our motion to ensure that children can receive appropriate, comprehensive, clinically ethical and timely needs assessments, and have access to the therapeutic interventions they need.”