Thursday 21 February 2019

FF in Budget demand to outsource the assessments of special needs

Micheál Martin’s party has repeatedly said this year’s Budget must be focused on housing and health. Photo: Tony Gavin
Micheál Martin’s party has repeatedly said this year’s Budget must be focused on housing and health. Photo: Tony Gavin
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Fianna Fáil is to demand that special needs assessments for children are outsourced to tackle long waiting lists.

The move is understood to be part of the party's Budget demands as negotiations continue ahead of the third budget in the confidence and supply agreement.

Micheál Martin's party has repeatedly said this year's Budget must be focused on housing and health.

One of the measures included in its demands is using the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to outsource special needs assessments for children, many of whom are missing out on early intervention due to backlogs in certain parts of the country.

It is understood the party's health spokesman Stephen Donnelly discussed the measure with his parliamentary party colleagues at the party's recent think-in.

Earlier this year an Oireachtas health committee heard that in some parts of the country children with special needs who are waiting to be assessed are facing delays of more than two years. The preliminary team assessment to determine if a child has a disability must then take no more than 90 minutes.

Concern has been expressed about the overly complicated application process and the time limit on the assessments which some feel is not sufficient time to determine the needs of the child.

The assessment is in order to determine the kind of care and education that the child should get.

A senior health source did not immediately rule out the move, acknowledging that it was a "possibility" as the NTPF can be used to source a variety of services.

A €120m pay deal for GPs, to restore recession-era cuts to doctors' pay is also on the cards, adding to the long list of demands from Health Minister Simon Harris.

Irish Independent

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