Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) has admitted that disability services in the region have been “ significantly challenged” in terms of the volume of applications for AONs and the resultant referrals for Autism Spectrum Disorder assessments “for a number of years now”.
Children and young people born on or after June 1, 2002 who are suspected of having a disability can apply for an AON under the Disability Act (2005).
The child is then referred to stage 2 if appropriate, which is for clinical assessment.
The numbers referred for ASD Assessment in Cork Kerry Community Healthcare are among the highest in the country.
Of the 100 referrals received under the Disability Act in the region per month, 80 are accepted.
Meanwhile, 56 referrals are accepted for ASD assessments per month and 24 assessments are delivered in the same period.
In the 12 months prior to February 2019, CKCH received a total of 1,167 referrals for assessment under the Disability Act.
CKCH has said that initiatives over the past three years have sought to address non-compliance in the AON system, where children are being forced to wait more than three months for assessments to be completed.
All Assessment of Need applications are now commenced within a month, according to the service.
Currently, there are 960 children waiting at stage 2 of the AON process in Cork, a reduction from 1,747 in March 2018.
Meanwhile, more than 850 of these children have been referred for an ASD assessment to the ASD assessment teams which are part of our voluntary funded services.
On average 60% of the monthly AON applications received results in a referral for an ASD assessment, “This is a significant challenge in terms of our capacity to respond to this need,” said a HSE spokesperson.
“Cork Kerry Community Healthcare recognises the long waiting times for clinical assessments with the current Assessment of Need process.” Cork Kerry Community Healthcare plans to reconfigure Children's Services in 2019 in the Cork area with the roll out of Progressing Disabilities (PDS) for Children.
Services in Kerry and in West Cork have already reconfigured and are now structured according to the PDS model.
Cork County North and Cork City will reconfigure in the months ahead.
The area will have 10 Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNT’s) once the reconfiguration is complete.