Families of children with special needs take High Court action over needs assessment delays

Seeking to have needs assessments delivered in three months

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Families of children with special needs take High Court action over needs assessment delays

The Four Courts

The families of three young children with special needs have launched High Court proceedings over the HSE's failure to complete assessments of their requirements. 

The three separate families, who cannot be identified for legal reasons and were represented in court by Derek Shortall Bl, instructed by solicitor Gareth Noble of KOD Lyons, say they have been waiting for assessments to be carried out on the children for some time.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan heard that one of the children involved in the actions has been waiting for an assessment to be carried out since January of 2016. 

Under the 2005 Disability Act children must receive an initial Assessment of Need within three months of receipt of an application and a complete assessment within a further three months.

The process normally involve a multi disciplinary team made up of a occupational therapist, speech and language therapists, physiotherapist, and a psychologist. 

When completed the assessment should include a diagnosis and a statement of services required by the child. They cannot be completed until all of the components have been completed. 

It is claimed that in each of the three children's cases no component of the assessment of need has been commenced, and no completion date has been indicated to the families.

The court heard that in each case the families have been directed into the complaints process. 

The families say that the children need an urgent diagnosis  and access to services. 

By going through the complaints process the families fear they may have to wait up to 18 months before they get an assessment.   

In their proceedings against the Heath Services Executive the three families seek an order compelling the respondent to complete the Assessments of Needs within the required 30 days.

The families also seek declarations that the HSE has failed to comply with its statutory obligation to complete the assessments within three months of one being requested, and complete the assessment within three months once it has started.

Permission to bring the actions was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Noonan at today’s (Monday, May 8) sitting of the High Court. 

The Judge made all three cases returnable to a date later this month.