Almost 3,000 children in Cork and Kerry waiting for first contact from disability network teams 

The CDNT scheme was rolled out by the HSE last year, in a bid to provide a range of supports to children with complex needs and their families, in their respective regions.
Almost 3,000 children in Cork and Kerry waiting for first contact from disability network teams 

Some 2,946 children in Cork and Kerry were on the waiting list for initial contact from the CDNT at the end of June this year.

Almost 3,000 children in Cork and Kerry are on the waiting list for initial contact from the Child Disability Network Team (CDNT) in the region, the second highest waiting list in the country.

CDNTs are teams of health and social care professionals, including nursing, occupational therapy, psychology, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, social work, and others.

The CDNT scheme was rolled out by the HSE last year, in a bid to provide a range of supports to children with complex needs and their families, in their respective regions.

However, the latest figures from the HSE, provided to Cork Labour TD Seán Sherlock, show that many children are struggling to access these teams.

1,900 children waiting longer than a year 

Some 2,946 children in Cork and Kerry were on the waiting list for initial contact from the CDNT at the end of June this year.

Around 1,900 of these had been waiting more than a year, while a further 606 had been on the waiting list for more than six months.

Only the Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 8 area, which represents Laois/Offaly, Longford/Westmeath, Louth and Meath, had a larger waiting list.

Speaking to The Echo, Labour TD Seán Sherlock called for a more straightforward process to allow families to access these vital services.

“Parents feel like they are now going through a constant process of incessant form-filling and that the services are moving further and further away from them,” explained Mr Sherlock.

“It is almost Kafkaesque that they are in this vortex of constant form-filling. They feel extremely frustrated and we have seen that frustration borne out in protests by families.

“Each number is a child and a family that desperately needs services not bureaucracy,” he stated.

'Significant challenges'

A spokesperson from Cork Kerry Community Healthcare explained that the Children’s Disability Network Teams (CDNTs) aim to ensure that all children will have timely access to appropriate services.

“However, the CDNTs have experienced significant challenges since reconfiguration,” she stated. “Challenges include higher than predicted caseloads on each CDNT, restraints due to Covid as well as finite and limited publicly funded resources assigned to each network.

“The CDNTs are experiencing recruitment and retention difficulties as experienced across all the health service at the present time.

“There are a number of vacancies due to recruitment challenges and statutory leave. We acknowledge the lengthy waiting times that children/young adults and their families are currently experiencing,” the spokesperson added.

“Disability services continue to engage with the service providers to ensure that where possible levels of service are maintained based on the prioritisation of those with the greatest need.

“The HSE and the lead agencies managing the CDNTs remain committed to ensure a safe, quality and timely service to children with a disability and to their families.”

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