Press Release

Minister Harney Welcomes Commencement of Part 2 of the Disability Act

The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney welcomed the commencement today (1 June 2007) of Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 for children aged under 5.

Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005 gives people with disabilities an entitlement to an independent assessment of health and education needs and a service statement identifying the services to be delivered. A system of complaints and appeals has also been established.

The Minister said ‘I welcome this significant step towards enhancing the level of support to people with disabilities’.

An assessment based on the needs of a client, independent of the costs of the provision of service, will be provided. The HSE will prepare a service statement outlining the services to be provided to the person. The Minister noted ‘This is the first time that an independent assessment of need, conducted according to standards laid down and monitored by an independent agency, the Health Information and Quality Authority, will be available. The Act will also give us an accurate picture of service provision and of areas for improvement across the system”.

Part 2 of the Act will be introduced on a phased basis. The aim is to extend its benefits to all persons with a disability by no later than 2011.

The Minister said ‘This is an important day for the implementation of the Disability Act. It underlines my continuing commitment to the implementation of the National Disability Strategy, including the Government’s Multi-Annual Investment Programme of €900m in the period 2005-2009’.

Background

In 2004, the Government launched the National Disability Strategy as a framework of positive action measures to support the participation of people with disabilities. Two new pieces of legislation – the Education for Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act, 2004 and the Disability Act, 2005 – form an integral part of this Strategy along with sectoral plans from six Government Departments, launched last July.

Part 2 of the Disability Act delivers on a key concern of people with a disability by providing an independent assessment of need, followed by a statement of the services to be provided by the HSE.

Services for adults and children will continue to be enhanced progressively over the next number of years. The provision of health funded services to meet identified needs of people with disabilities continues to be a priority. The commitment to provide a Multi-Annual Investment programme of some €900m over the period 2006-2009 for disability support services recognises the need to build capacity in the health services to deliver on these obligations. The bulk of this funding, around €720m, is being spent in the health services.

Additional funding of €926m has been invested in health funding support services for people with disabilities between 1997 and 2007. In the period since the publication of the National Disability Strategy, additional revenue and capital funding of €285m has been provided by the Government for the enhancements of health funded services.