Second family to sue HSE over assessment delays for child

A second family has moved to sue the HSE over delays to Assessment of Need for their child.

Second family to sue HSE over assessment delays for child

A second family has moved to sue the HSE over delays to Assessment of Need for their child.

The Irish Examiner revealed that last week a High Court Judge gave the family of a four-year-old boy with autism leave to pursue aggravated damages against the Health Service Executive over its failure to deliver an assessment of need for him within the required timeframe.

That ex-parte application for Judicial Review was made last Monday and the HSE is expected in court to respond to it tomorrow, but a similar but separate ex-parte application was lodged today on behalf of a four-year-old by his mother.

Both applications have been made by Barrister Brendan Hennessy JC for Rogers Law Solicitors. Mr Justice Seamus Noonan has made the latest matter returnable to January 15.

An assessment of need (AON) allows children to be diagnosed and then apply for the resources they require in line with their disability.

The HSE is statutorily obliged to begin the AON within three months of the application, and it should then be completed within another three months, including the furnishing of all relevant reports regarding whatever resources would then be required for the child.

Earlier this year Ms Justice Mary Faherty ordered the HSE to complete a number of outstanding AONs within six weeks, while latest figures show 3,662 overdue AONs at the end of last October - 30% of which are in Cork and Kerry.

In the second case in which the family of a child is seeking damages from the HSE for the delay in delivering an AON, the application claims the AON took 16 months to complete and that the HSE's service statement "failed to comply properly or at all with the requirements of the Regulations".

It also alleged: "This delay in completing the assessment in accordance with the statutory time limits inevitably led to a delay to intervention.

The applicant has lost valuable and irreplaceable time during which his deficits could have been sooner addressed, and that this is time which cannot be made up at this stage, and that permanent loss has resulted.

Latest data shows the national average duration of the assessment process per report completed is now peaking at 18-and-a-half months. A decade ago it took an average of 8.75 months.

Earlier this year the HSE sought to address the issue by introducing a new Standard Operating Procedure, only to meet with opposition from occupational and speech and language therapists and their representatives, resulting in its implementation being deferred.

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