Disabilities minister vows to cut wait times for needs assessments to three months by next summer

Disabilities minister vows to cut wait times for needs assessments to three months by next summer

Anne Rabbitte, minister for disabilities, has vowed to clear the backlog in waiting lists for needs assessments by next summer. Picture: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The disabilities minister has vowed to tackle "shocking" waiting lists and has promised that all children will get an assessment of needs within three months.

Thousands of children are currently waiting for assessments, with the average waiting time at 19 months.

Doctors say some children can be waiting up to three years for an assessment, which is delaying access to supports and therapy. This is despite a legal requirement to be seen within six months.

Anne Rabbitte has promised to clear the current backlog and will have waiting times down to three months by next June at the latest.

Ms Rabbitte said: "First and foremost what we need to do is clear the backlog. There are people waiting in excess of two years, that's shocking.

"While people are waiting their children are regressing, there is no progress being made, no intervention. And so that's why we're trying to clear that backlog."

Ms Rabitte and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly recently announced a €7.8m package to support a multifaceted approach to assessments.

The funds will go towards recruiting more clinical staff, filling positions that are vacant due to maternity leave, using private facilities for assessments and paying clinicians to work overtime at weekends or evenings.

Ms Rabbitte said she will be asking for briefings every two weeks on waiting lists from the nine Community Health Organisation regions in the HSE.

"Some people say I'm micromanaging this, that I'm gone right into the weeds, maybe I am, but maybe that's the only way I'm going to get this done," she told the Irish Examiner.

Announcing the funding Mr Donnelly said: “I have met many parents and guardians who have had to wait far too long for these services. This is something that I am extremely passionate about and I was determined to solve this problem as soon as possible.

"This is one of a number of actions that the government is taking as part of our commitment to universal healthcare. Ireland’s healthcare system must be world-class for all, from young to old."

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