Only quarter of child need assessments done on time

New data from the HSE shows that just one quarter of assessments of need for children were completed within the regulation timeline last year.

The same dataset also shows that one third of assessments of need began within the set three-month timeline in 2017.

The figures are contained in the HSE’s Key Performance Indicator Metadata report covering disability services.

The figures show that, in a number of areas, the HSE met or exceeded its 2017 targets for service delivery, but that in some areas — including some relating to children and autism services — it underperformed.

Chief among these is the area of assessment of need (AON), which is at the centre of a wrangle between the HSE and the Fórsa trade union regarding a proposed new model. It was also at the centre of a recent judicial review regarding the service model operating up to now.

The dataset covers a range of services and shows that 63% of AONs commenced within timelines as provided for in the regulations last year (three months), versus a HSE target of 100%.

Just 25% of the AONs were completed within the three-month timeline as provided for in the regulations, versus a HSE target for 2017 of 100%.

Earlier this month, a High Court judge made orders on consent giving the HSE between six and eight weeks to complete assessments of the health and educational needs of 12 children with suspected autism and other conditions.

The matter had been brought to court under a judicial review application. A similar order had been made last month.

Just this week the Irish Examiner reported that families in Laois/Offaly had been informed by HSE letter that they could face a wait for AON for their children of one to three years. In the same letter, the HSE said the waiting times for early intervention and school-age psychology services could be four to five years.

Earlier this year, the HSE proposed implementing a new standard operating procedure in relation to AON, but the plan ran into difficulty following severe criticism from the bodies representing psychologists and occupational therapists.

They said they had not been consulted, and argued that the proposed new system was flawed.

Since then, the HSE has deferred implementation of the plan after trade union Fórsa said it needed to discuss the matter with the HSE on behalf of its members.

The dataset showed the HSE performing well against its 2017 targets in a number of areas, but in other areas there were shortcomings.

Just 51% of service statements were completed within the regulated timeframe last year, against a target of 100%, while 47.5% of established children’s disability network teams had current individualised plans for children.

Elsewhere, there was a shortfall in respite services, including in the number of overnights accessed by people with a disability and in the number of day-only respite sessions accessed by people with a disability.


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