Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Ceisteanna (1188)

Seán Sherlock


1188. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health the status of taxi services for the disability sector at present, particularly in circumstances in which persons were collected from their home before the pandemic. [32575/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The HSE has no statutory obligation to provide transport services and funding is not provided. However, some transport supports are provided by the HSE or funded agencies on a discretionary basis. A variety of transport solutions are pursued in each CHO area, including:

- Travel training by service providers or families to enable public transport to be used upon commencement of their day programme where applicable.

- Service providers provide transport where available capacity exists.

- Local transport e.g. Local Link, private bus transport providers and taxis, funded via a combination of service provider, HSE funding, service user contribution, and / or combined funding to meet the transport requirements identified.

- HSE local funding, where available, is utilised to support service providers to provide transport solutions for service users.

- Families agree to transport service users to service providers.

In general, disability service users are in receipt of disability allowance and are automatically entitled to the Free Travel Pass.

The HSE was successful in securing Dormant Account monies to fund a project to map all Disability transport routes nationally, via information gathering by Disability Service providers and HSE Services who provide transport. The outputs of this study will be used as a basis for considering how to improve access to disability services and how to best make use of local resources.

The availability of safe transport is essential to the delivery of Day Services across the country. Reduced capacity on vehicles will mean more journeys to facilitate those that require a transport service to access their day service location.

As services resume it will be necessary to identify how transport can continue to be provided in as safe a manner as possible and strictly within social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions. Transport providers will have to demonstrate that their transport services are safe and that all COVID-19 precautions have been established and observed. The guidance includes general guidelines and a risk assessment matrix on safe transport. While family members are to be encouraged to transport the individual to Day Services, this will not always be possible depending on the family circumstances and in these cases, there will continue to be a reliance on bus transport.

Transport is a theme of the National Disability Inclusion strategy, and Action 104 of this strategy states: 'We will lead a review of transport supports encompassing all Government funded transport and mobility schemes for people with disabilities, to enhance the options for transport to work or employment supports for people with disabilities and will develop proposals for development of a coordinated plan for such provision. This plan will have regard to making the most efficient use of available transport resources.”

As part of the mid-term review of the NDIS, there will be a focus on promoting collaborative approaches to cross-cutting issues, and the working group on transport (Action 104), was convened by the Department of Justice and Equality in February 2020, with a focus on identifying opportunities for collaboration between transport and other public bodies to promote greater mobility for people with disabilities.

Question No. 1189 answered with Question No. 1114.