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Disability Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Friday - 3 December 2021

Friday, 3 December 2021

Questions (107)

Holly Cairns


107. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health the steps he is taking to address waiting lists for assessments and therapies for the children’s disability network teams in Cork south west. [59346/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

HSE Disability Services in Cork and Kerry reconfigured children’s disability services to Children’s Disability Network Teams under the Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People Programme (PDS) in April 2021.

The re-configuration of Network Teams has been challenging, particularly, in regard to staffing issues. Currently, there are a number of vacancies on Children’s Disability Network Teams in each Community Healthcare Organisation, which are being progressed, as a matter of urgency, by HSE National Recruitment Services, and directly in the case of Section 39 Lead Agencies, in order to support Network Teams to optimise service delivery. These challenges arise due to the significant availability of new posts across the wider HSE in areas such as Primary Care and Services for Older People and also in the private sector. Coupled with this are temporary absences on some teams related to maternity leave and in other instances Covid related sick leave.

A further 100 therapy posts were allocated under the HSE National Service Plan 2021. Funding for these posts is facilitating each area to identify and address the discipline and grade most urgently required to fill immediate gaps in their Children’s Disability Network Teams to address issues such as waiting lists for therapy supports. In addition, the HSE is also employing an additional 85 Whole Time Equivalent Posts within those Network Teams to address a perceived diminution of service in special schools. The numbers were mapped by the HSE and I understand that Network Teams in Cork and Kerry will receive an additional 13.3 Whole Time Equivalent Posts of these posts. 

Further additional new posts will also be announced as part of the HSE’s National Service Plan for 2022. 

- Under PDS, completion of the Children’s Disability Network Team Configuration by the HSE will ensure;

A fairer system for access to services; a system that actually covers all parts of the country rather than where there areas with good services and, in contrast, pockets where there were effectively none.

Provision of more effective interdisciplinary teams – with a range of professionals working together, rather than some clinicians working solo, or isolated from professional support and referral options.

- Create efficiencies by ensuring the CDNTs provide a continuum of care for children with special needs from birth to 18 years, reducing the need for onward referral and allowing different professionals to work as one team, in one place, at the same time.

- In August 2020 the HSE was provided with €7.8m SláinteCare funding to address overdue Assessments of Need (AoN).

- In this regard, almost €1.2m was allocated to CHO4 and 1,100 overdue assessments in Cork and Kerry were processed and completed.

- There are 11 CDNTs based in Cork. The teams located in West Central Cork and in South Cork City cover the geographic area of Cork South-West.

The CDNT in West Central Cork has 26.19 WTEs, inclusive of a Network Manager and Admin Staff and has a current caseload of 721 children, not inclusive of waiting lists.

- The CDNT in South Cork City has 14.47 WTEs, inclusive of a Network Manager and Admin Staff and has a current caseload of 405 children, not inclusive of waiting lists.