‘Dramatic’ increase in actions over children’s special needs assessments must be addressed
Posted on 22nd November 2022 at 22:54
Mr Justice Charles Meenan wants the HSE to come to court to address the issue
The “dramatic” increase in actions against the Health Service Executive over the assessment of children with special needs must be addressed, a senior High Court judge has said.
While noting he was not making any judgment about who is responsible for what is a problematic situation, Mr Justice Charles Meenan directed the HSE to appear before the court in December to address the issue.
Mr Justice Meenan, who heads the High Court’s busy judicial review list, said two or three of these types of cases are entering the court each week.
However, in recent weeks there has been a “dramatic increase”, with an average of seven new applications per week, he said. The applicants seek court permission to bring judicial review challenges against the HSE over alleged delays to completing the assessment of needs.
During Monday’s sitting of the court, the judge said that a significant number of new cases against the HSE were claims over the assessments of needs.
None of the parties involved in the actions can be named for legal reasons.
The cases have been brought on behalf of young children who are seeking various reliefs from the court, including orders requiring the HSE to commence and complete reviews of Assessment of Need applications within a period of six weeks.
The applicants typically seek declarations that the HSE has failed to comply with its legal obligations under the 2005 Disability Act by failing to complete the assessment of the child’s health and service needs with a reasonable period of time.
In many cases it is claimed the failure to complete such assessments or reviews results in children with additional needs being deprived of services they require, such as speech and language therapy, psychological services and educational services.
The judge said that rather than grant permission in the cases, he would adjourn them and give notice to the HSE of the new date in mid-December.
“Obviously there is a problem,” the judge said.
The judge’s remarks are not the first time he has raised questions about cases regarding the assessment of children’s needs.
Mr Justice Meenan has asked if actions aimed at compelling the HSE to assess the requirements of special needs children within six weeks are the “best use of very limited resources”.
The cases are generally settled on consent shortly after they come to court, he said.
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