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Minister tells HSE to prioritise therapies for children with disabilities

a kid with disability smiling during a therapy session

Disabilities minister Anne Rabbitte has ordered the HSE to immediately halt time-consuming paperwork over concerns that this is preventing children with disabilities from receiving the therapy they need.

The comments come following the High Court judgement of 11 March 2022, which found that the Preliminary Team Assessment (PTA) approach under the current Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Assessment of Need (AON), does not fulfil the requirements of the Disability Act 2005.

“It is so important parents and families know what arrangements are now in place following the High Court judgement regarding the Assessment of Needs (AON) process. The HSE has confirmed that it is reverting to the pre-January 2020 process, to enable children and families access assessments. This is an interim measure, pending the development of a new SOP, which will be developed in conjunction with stakeholders to ensure full compliance with the requirements of the Disability Act (2005). The HSE has informed all relevant staff in Community Healthcare Organisations about the interim procedure and assessments should be taking place following the pre-2020 approach.” said Minister Rabbitte.

“The HSE has established a group to develop, implement and oversee the changes now required to the AON service. Communication with and for families must be a key focus for the HSE and I have reminded them of this a number of times. HSE has stated that any new process will protect the commitment to the provision of timely and appropriate therapy supports for children and families.” said Minister Rabbitte.

“I am also engaging with the HSE on a number of options to address the waiting list for Assessment of Need. Investment in this area has already shown the lists can be effectively tackled so I am keen to see progress made in that area to ensure families and children are being supported as much as possible. I have already signed off on additional funding of €1.5 million for approximately 1,000 diagnostic assessments for autism. I am firmly committed to working closely with senior officials in the Department of Health and the HSE on these issues.” Minister added.

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