I thank the Deputy for raising what is an important issue for our area. I have been advised by HSE officials that there is a delay in completing assessments of need in the Dublin north city and county community healthcare organisation, CHO, due to the increasing number of referrals. A number of factors are driving this demand, those being, the growth in the child population and an increase in children presenting with complex needs. All applications and assessments of need are dealt with strictly in order of date of application. Under the Disability Act 2005, an assessment of need should begin not later than three months after receipt of a completed application and should be completed within a further three months.
Plans are in place to increase staffing levels in therapy disciplines to support the assessment of need process for children in the Dublin north city and county CHO. We are pushing this strongly. Funding for an additional 100 therapy posts was secured as part of budget 2019 - I thank the Minister, Deputy Harris, for his strong support in that regard - to improve waiting times for assessments of need nationally. The HSE is committed to the recruitment of these 100 therapy posts in its 2019 national service plan, with the Dublin north city and county CHO allocated 16 of these posts. The CHO is actively drawing from existing panels with a view to having these posts filled by the end of 2019.
The filling of these critical posts is designed to have a positive impact on waiting times for assessments of need around the country. The 16 posts will make an impression and will be filled over the next couple of months.