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Delay in Disability Services: HSE apologised to parents of children with special needs

DUBLIN: The Health Service Executive has apologised parents of children with additional needs for a delay in the introduction of the controversial Progressing Disability Services scheme.

The apology comes as the Children’s Disability Network Team (CDNT), which was due to take effect in Dublin last month, has been delayed until next month.

In a letter sent to parents, the HSE explained that the delay was caused by a recent cyber-attack and staffing issues. The letter also said the HSE planned to have the teams in place by next month and apologised for any inconvenience caused by the delay, saying “very sorry”.

The Disability Services scheme will see the setting up of 12 new CDNTs across Dublin city north and county, in addition to the 96 network teams currently being set up in other parts of the country.   

According to the HSE, the new system, which will replace the existing School Aged Disability Team system, will provide a “fairer way to provide services for children with disabilities”. As a result, rather than being focused solely on the child’s diagnosis, supports will be tailored to the child’s specific needs.

The HSE has promised services for children up to the age of 18 who have special needs in a community-based interdisciplinary setting.

HSE officials say the cyber-attack had a deeper impact than the pandemic. However, a spokesperson for the Republic’s healthcare system said it recognises the “critical need and importance of disability supports for children with special needs”.

Adam Harris of autism charity AsIAM said: “We are very concerned about the further delay in the roll-out of the CDNT’s. At a time when children have never had greater support needs due to a loss of these developmental skills and school closures during the lockdown period, we are not seeing a corresponding level of supports to meet that need.”

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