Fórsa has reached an agreement with the HSE on the introduction of an ‘assessment of need protocol,’ which outlines how children’s needs will be assessed under the terms of the Disability Act (2005). It’s designed to guide the assessment of potential service needs for children who have, or may have, a disability.
The union has been in consultation with the HSE on the new protocol since May 2017. The professional groups involved include assessment officers, dietitians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, social workers and speech and language therapists.
Fórsa assistant general secretary Catherine Keogh explained: “We had previously expressed professional, practical and capacity concerns following HSE management’s attempt to introduce the needs assessment protocol without consultation with Fórsa, who represent the health professionals who’ll be expected to operate it.”
A joint working group was established in May 2018 when the union raised concerns about time assessment limits within the policy. Fórsa assistant general secretary Chris Cully explained: “Our concerns were that the time limits within the protocol would not be sufficient to adequately determine the needs of children being assessed.
“We also had concerns about the additional staff resources required to meet demand within the three-month timeframe laid down by the legislation,” she said.
Fórsa representatives on the joint working group included union officials and specialist professionals.
Chris added: “The union is of the view that the new agreement provides Fórsa with the necessary oversight and protections for members in relation to the standard operating procedure. Now that we’ve secured an agreement I’ve advised our members that the union’s instruction of non-cooperation has been lifted. Members should now co-operate with the assessment of need protocol,” she said.
The agreement also provides for an independently-chaired joint review group, and Fórsa will have three representatives on the group. Chris said the nominees will be decided by Fórsa in consultation with the relevant HSCP professional committees, while the independent chair is Robbie Ryan, who was nominated by Fórsa.
Read the full text of the agreement HERE.