“FOI Reveals Extent Of Dysfunction in Provision of ADHD Assessments” – Brolly
As ADHD month draws to a close, Aontú Deputy Leader Gemma Brolly has called for urgent action in addressing the failures within the system to assess children for ASD and ADHD in a timely and efficient manner.
Speaking today, Gemma Brolly said “As a mother, teacher and Special Needs Coordinator, mental health issues have always been and will continue to be of the highest priority for me and for Aontú. Within my own family circle and also within education, I have experienced the distress and desperation of so many parents and educators while they wait for their child to be assessed. Assessment is essential for addressing and accommodating the needs of a child appropriately. However, waiting times for assessments vary widely and can even be dependent on which health trust a child lives in.”
Gemma continued “Through Freedom of Information requests submitted by Aontú, we now know that overall, throughout all five Trusts, the number of young people awaiting ASD assessments has tripled in the last five years. At the same time, average waiting times have either doubled or trebled with the exception of Southern Trust which remains the same. The amount of young people awaiting ADHD assessments has also more than doubled in the past five years and the average waiting time has trebled. This information indicates the Northern Trust (NHSCT) had the highest number of young people awaiting ASD Assessment (896) in 2017/18 and five years later in 2021/2022 there are 7 times that amount waiting for assessment (2758). However, the Belfast Trust has the worst waiting time at 38 months. This has tripled since 2017/18. Comparatively, the NHSCT records an average waiting time of 15 months. Through personal experience, I am aware that many have experienced a much longer wait, particularly throughout COVID.”
“The number of children awaiting assessment of ADHD in the Belfast Trust has more than doubled from 662 to 1542. The Belfast Trust also has the longest average waiting time of up to 26 months. In comparison with the Northern Trust who have the shortest average waiting time recorded at 101 days but are still third in the ranking with 561 awaiting ADHD assessment. “
“Waiting times for ADHD assessment have more than tripled in the last five years, all others doubled except South Eastern trust who advised they were “unable to provide an average waiting time. To provide the information requested, would require a manual trawl of files which would not be practical due to the number of files involved and is likely to exceed the FOI Fees Limit.” This I believe is of notable concern in itself, particularly following recommendations from the “Too Little, Too Late” NICCY report. This information completely reinforces the need for a collaborative approach not only between our health and education departments but across all Health Trusts. A common sense approach of Trusts with any human resources available assisting in assessment in other Trusts and establishing consistency across Trusts would surely improve this awful situation.”
We have also seen in the past how the Department of Health has drafted in assistance from the private sector in order to help alleviate waiting lists and times. The fact of the matter is, as of March 2022, we have almost 7000 children either in school or at home whose health and educational needs are not yet fully accommodated due to the lack of ASD assessment. Similarly, we have almost 4000 children waiting for ADHD assessments whose needs are likewise not accommodated. Our current education system is no longer fit for purpose and is in need of extensive change and investment. While our Department of Health struggles to cope and cannot begin to prepare for the possible future tsunami of Mental Health issues, the fact here is there is absolutely no provision for adults with ADHD within our Health Trusts, which consolidates the urgency of immediate collaborative action.”
“Aontú have written to both the Minister for Education and the Minister for Health to request that a cross-body task force be created with a matter of urgency, involving stakeholders in order to plan a short term and long term pathway to address the medical and educational needs of our young people and adults. We have also requested Ministers and their departments communicate with parental support groups in order to understand the extent of unanswered support these families are desperate to achieve. Our families are experiencing huge pressure and struggles within their homes and we must now address this.”