Thursday, 27 March 2008

Charity Calls On UK Health And Social Care Chiefs To Adopt Plan To Help Disabled Childen

A leading disabled children's charity has called on health and social care chiefs to undertake a significant review of their spending and policy on equipment for disabled children.

BDF Newlife says that in the last three years it has spent more than £1.7million on grants for families with disabled children in the United Kingdom.

It claims the equipment should be being provided by Primary Care Trusts and Local Authorities.

It has proposed a six point plan of action which it hopes to have adopted by Chief Executives in England, Scotland and Wales to employ new ways of monitoring 'unmet need', to tackle any failings in their area and review their budgets for provision of equipment.

The charity's Chief Executive Sheila Brown OBE says: "Our research shows that there is little appreciation of the true spending levels needed to give the right level of assistance to disabled children. Few organisations have a system in place to monitor unmet need.

"We believe that statutory bodies simply don't know how many children are going without equipment because their professionals know the limitations of their budget and so apply straight to a charity.

"If the size of the need is not known then it can't be planned for financially. Disabled children are slipping through the net. Until CEOs track unmet need this will continue year on year."

As part of its call for action BDF Newlife wants to see increased spending on equipment for disabled children, special needs car seats to be classed as essential equipment, an end to 'unlawful blanket bans' (ie when a department does not provide a certain piece of equipment) on provision of particular items and an end to inter-departmental disagreements about who funds what items.

The charity is writing to every CEO in the UK, who has overall responsibility for disabled children's equipment provision, calling on them to adopt its plan. It is also offering to carry out a 'criteria health check' - to ensure statutory bodies are meeting the needs of disabled children.

Adds Mrs Brown: "All this is achievable. Our concern is for disabled children and we wish to work with statutory bodies to make a better future for them."

BDF Newlife is the UK's leading child health charity specialising in research

and support to aid those affected by inborn conditions, otherwise known as birth defects. In addition to funding research, the charity also offers support services operated by specially trained nurses.

* Notes

The charity's six point call for action is as follows:

Unmet need: Install a system whereby formal applications are always made to the relevant statutory service. Monitor applications that are refused and explain why to indicate the level of unmet need.

Budget planning 2008/09: Review current spending levels to inform next year's budget. Use internal data to make necessary increases in budget and allow more children to receive equipment in the year ahead.
Car seats: Agree that car seats for disabled children are 'essential equipment' and eligible for funding.

No 'unlawful' blanket bans: Ensure that there is no possibility of unlawful blanket bans being expressed in writing or verbally to avoid legal challenges.

Provide first, debate later: Take steps to agree with other relevant bodies that inter-departmental disagreements about who funds what do not cause delay in making provision.

Health check on provision criteria. Ensure criteria/policies are open and developed in partnership with health, education and voluntary sector providers.

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