Thursday, 29 September 2022
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. It is one that is of enormous importance to thousands of families across the country. I think all of us will know from our constituency services of cases of people and children who have had to wait a very long time for their assessment of need. I am sorry to hear of the case the Deputy raised and hope Uisneach is getting the support he needs now.
There are lots of delays in getting those assessments of need done for the children who need them. As I mentioned, this is something I am aware of from my constituency service. I met Avista, one of the providers in my constituency, on Friday last to discuss this and related issues. There are additional resources provided for in the budget that will be detailed in the HSE service plan.
It is not just a matter of money. We have seen a huge increase in spending on health and disability in recent years but money alone does not solve problems. You need to recruit and retain staff, which is a challenge here and everywhere around the world at the moment. You also need to be able to ensure your systems work well. Perhaps we need to consider a change of approach here. At the moment, you need to get your assessments of need before you get the therapies you need. However, I know people who work in the sector would state that it does not necessarily have to be that way. You could start providing therapies right away. It can be very clear that some children need therapy. The system we have at the moment where you wait for your assessment of need before you get the interventions is perhaps not the best option. Where it is obvious a child needs a particular intervention or therapy, why do we not provide that straight away? We need to provide additional resources, which is happening, and additional staff, which is a challenge. Perhaps we also need to look at the system and the approach we have taken to date and assess whether these can be improved.