Written Answers. - Services for People with Disabilities.

Nora Owen

Question:

599 Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Health and Children the action he is taking to ensure that young adults suffering from autism and other disabilities have adequate services available to them when they reach the age of 18 in view of the fact that such young adults are often placed in residential places that are not suitable to their needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20116/00]

The provision of services to persons with an intellectual disability and those with autism is the responsibility of the health boards in the first instance. While new additional services specifically for persons with autism have been and will continue to be developed, many persons with autism are in receipt of services within the intellectual disability services and have benefited generally from the development of new residential, respite and day services which have been substantially enhanced in recent years. However, the Government recognised that there was a need to accelerate the pace at which the identified needs of persons with autism and those with an intellectual disability were being met and is committed to meeting those needs within a defined timeframe of three years, starting with a major acceleration of investment, both capital and revenue, this year.

The additional revenue funding being allocated in 2000 is designed to support the opening of additional services with an annual cost of £35 million. The services being provided with this funding include the development and enhancement of health related support services for persons with autism.

The additional revenue funding will provide: 555 new residential places; 185 new respite places; 700 new day places; health related support services for persons with autism; the continuation of the programme to transfer persons with an intellectual disability from psychiatric hospitals and other inappropriate placements and additional specialist and other support services.

There is also a need for capital investment in the infrastructure required to support these services.

The national development plan now provides a new framework within which unprecedented capital investment will be made in the health services in the period from 2000 to 2006. In the area of intellectual disability services, this investment will focus on three main areas: the provision of new facilities from which a broad range of support services, including residential, respite and day services, can be delivered; the renovation of existing facilities; and the continuation of the programme to transfer persons with an intellectual disability from inappropriate placements.
Additional capital funding of £30 million will be made available in 2000, £40 million in 2001 and £10 million in 2002. This is a total of £80 million over the next three years, to support these developments.
This additional funding brings the total revenue and capital funding provided by this Government to date for these services to £121.7 million in 2000, with a full year cost of £128.7 million in 2001. This underlines the Government's commitment to meeting the needs of persons with an intellectual disability and those with autism and I wish to assure you that this will remain one of my top priorities.