Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability and Carers Pauline Tully TD has called on the government to stop shirking its responsibilities for the care of children with additional needs.
Deputy Tully was speaking as she urged cross-support for her motion, which will be introduced to the Dáil on Tuesday, that seeks to remove the barriers put in place that prevent parents accessing the care their children need.
She added that despite government claims, waiting lists have not been reduced, and are in reality being hidden.
Teachta Tully said:
“Waiting lists for assessments of need have been spiraling out of control for years to the point where parents are forced to bring the HSE to court to get their child assessed.
“The Minister has said that waiting lists are being dramatically reduced. The reality is that this has been an exercise in deception.
“Waiting lists have not been reduced, they are being hidden.
“Changes implemented that the government claimed would facilitate the timely completion of assessments have not done so, nor have they reduced the waiting lists for children to receive a full assessment of need.
“Instead, what was introduced is a very short preliminary assessment which, once finished, moves children on to yet another waiting list for further assessment from which there is no legal obligation on the HSE to complete within a specific timeframe.
“Figures released by the Minister claiming significant numbers of children were receiving assessments in fact only reflect children who received that short, inadequate, preliminary assessment.
“This is smoke and mirrors. These children are not receiving proper assessments nor are they accessing the therapeutic interventions that they require.
“This is a cynical act of shirking responsibility for protecting children’s rights.
“Under the Disability Act 2005, children have a statutory right to an assessment of need, which must legally be carried out within six months of an application.
“The government does not come close to fulfilling its legal obligations to protect children’s rights, nor does it have the appetite or vision to fix our broken disability service.
“On Tuesday, Sinn Féin will bring forward a motion on the issue of assessments of need within Children’s Disability Services, and the lack of access to therapeutic interventions.
“I urge all TDs to support our motion to ensure children can receive appropriate, comprehensive, clinically ethical and timely assessments of need, and access to the therapeutic interventions they need.”
The motion can be read here.