Outdated computer system used to evaluate services for children with disabilities

A computer system designed to manage the management, planning and reporting of assessments for children with disabilities is now 20 years old and no longer maintained.

The HSE also confirmed that it had not submitted a report on the needs of children with disabilities to the Minister of Health since 2014.

Under Section 13 of the Disability Act 2005, the HSE is required to submit annual reports outlining the ideal time frame for providing services and the costs of providing this care.

However, in response to Sinn Féin parliamentary question TD David Cullinane, the HSE said the last such report was submitted in 2014.

The executive outlined a number of reasons for not producing regular reports, saying that “converting identified needs into costs, where required, has proven problematic.”

The HSE is “working on” reporting from 2015 to 2020, but said that work was delayed by the HSE cyberattack, which happened last year.

The obsolete nature of the computer system is also problematic.

“The HSE has prepared and presented annual reports for the years 2007 to 2014 to the Department of Health. We are currently working on reports for the years 2015-2020 to bring us up to date,” said the HSE’s response to Mr. Cullinan.

“However, we have experienced delays due to the recent cyberattack and AOS (Application Object Server) database limitations. These reports are expected to be completed by the end of the year. .

“AOS was developed by a small software development company, which no longer maintains or supports the system. The database is 20 years old and has not undergone any upgrades in recent years. or necessary technical changes that are generally required by IT systems to reflect changes in policies, operational practices and user needs.

“This has created many challenges for disability services nationally and for users of the system locally.”

A High Court judgment last week found the HSE was breaking the law in the way it carried out its needs assessment – ​​the process of identifying the services required for a disabled child.

“It is frustrating that the reports are not given to the minister because these assessments decide the allocation of resources and that is simply not enough,” Mr Cullinane said.

“These are supposed to be annual reports, so the older ones are outdated. They are now working on outdated data.

For any service using an outdated system, that’s bad, but for a service that logs the services a child with a disability needs, that’s absolutely appalling. There is no rationale for this and we see this across the healthcare system where we do not have integrated systems across the HSE.

“It’s a disgrace which, again, means people will have to take cases to court. A better system must be a priority while ensuring that published reports comply with the law.”

In a statement, the HSE said: “We are committed to developing a new integrated database for services for children with disabilities. This has been commissioned and is scheduled to start rolling out in the third quarter of 2022 and be completed by by the end of 2023.

Gordon K. Morehouse