Children suffering as HSE delays appointment of Assessment of Needs Officer – Smyth

NIAMH PROFILEFianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Niamh Smyth has hit out at HSE management for the continued delay in recruiting an Assessment of Needs Officer for children with disabilities.  This position has been vacant since last September and has led to major backlogs in the system.

Deputy Smyth explained, “Cavan and Monaghan have the highest waiting lists in the entire HSE North West region for first assessments under the Disability Act.  The latest figures reveal a total of 128 children across the two counties waiting for an assessment, and many of them are not being seen within the 3 month target time outlined in the legislation.

“I have been contacted by parents who are extremely frustrated by the long waiting times.  Best practice advises assessment and intervention at the earliest possible stage, however because of staff vacancies, children in Cavan and Monaghan are facing unacceptably long waits for assessments.

“I asked the Minister for Health when this vacancy would be filled and in its latest reply to me the Head of Social Care for the HSE’s North West area claims the role will be filled “in the coming weeks”.  I was led to believe that this appointment was to be made by April this year but that has now been further delayed.  Even when the position is eventually filled it will not fully address the backlog in the system.  We will need to see additional resources allocated to cope with the demand.

“Parents are genuinely worried that their children’s outcomes are being compromised.  The current delays cannot be allowed to continue.  I am calling on the HSE to increase staffing levels to cope with the current demand – no child should be waiting more than 3 months for a first assessment – these delays must be tackled, and this must be made a priority”.

See my Parliamentary Question on this issue: Assessment of Needs Officer