Four out of five challenges to assessments conducted by the HSE of children suspected of having a disability are made by parents living in the Cork region.
The latest annual report of the Office of the Disability Appeals Officer shows cases involving children from Cork accounted for 80% of complaints in 2015.
Under the Disability Act 2005, any parent of guardian of a child born on or after June 1, 2002, who feels their child may have a disability, can apply for an assessment of their health and education needs.
The assessment must start within three months of when the HSE receives a completed application form and must be completed within a further three months.
Parents or guardians who are unhappy with the outcome of the assessment or any part of the process can make a formal complaint to a HSE’s disability complaints officer whose decision can be appealed to the Disability Appeals Officer.
Disability Appeals Officer Robbie Breen, who is independent of the HSE, said 32 out of 40 cases handled last year came from people living in Cork with 20 from the HSE’s South Lee administrative area.
“Significant delays are being experienced by some parents in having the assessment of need process completed,” Mr Breen observed.
The number of challenges to assessments on children conducted by the HSE has increased dramatically in the past two years.
Mr Breen said the number of complaints received this year was already way ahead of last year’s total which in turn was almost double 2014 figures.
A total of 36 appeals were made last year which represented an 80% increase on 2014 figures, while four cases were carried over from 2014.
Mr Breen said the upward trend in appeal applications had continued further this year with 66 complaints having been received by the end of August.
The number of complaints to the HSE rose by 41% last year — up from 399 in 2014 to 564.
Mr Breen claimed the vast majority of new cases related to complaints over delays in the completion of the assessment of need process.
Half of the 36 new appeals lodged last year were upheld. One case was not upheld and two were withdrawn.
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