Unless there is an urgent intervention by the Minister for Disability, with additional resources, complaints relating to Assessment of Needs applications will continue to put on the long finger. The HSE informed Fianna Fáil that there are currently 445 complaints currently outstanding as of February 2nd.
This is a shocking number of complaints, and is being made worse as a result of only one HSE staff member working on dealing with these complaints. If no new complaints are made, based on the HSE’s average of 14 complaint investigations being completed per week, it will be over 30 weeks before the back log is cleared.
That’s simply not going to happen. More and more applications are rightly being made for an Assessment of Need, and this will result in increased complaints. An Assessment of Needs is a formal assessment of a child’s needs associated with having a disability. Any child born after June 1st 2002 is eligible for an assessment under the Disability Act 2005.
The act ensures that not only must an assessment be carried out, and a report is drawn up, but that the parents have a right to complain if they are unhappy with any part of the process. Delays in investigating complaints are slowing down the potential delivery of services to children with disabilities. This is a wholly unacceptable situation. The response from the HSE doesn’t fill me with much confidence to be frank.
Hoping to increase the staffing levels is not something parents of children with disabilities want to hear. Minister McGrath must, if not able to secure staff externally, allocate staff from other sections of the HSE, and provide funding for the complaints process to be sped up.