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New duty to provide health support to children with SEN
Wednesday 06 March 2013
Important victory for children follows Mencap’s campaigning on the Children and Families Bill
Mencap has today (6 March) welcomed a major step forward in the support offered to children and young people with special educational needs (SEN).
The government has announced that it will table an amendment to the Children and Families Bill to help ensure that children and young people receive the health services they need to enable them to take part in education.
The Children and Families Bill, launched in February, outlines plans to replace SEN statements with Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) for children and young people from birth to age 25.
But in the current bill, there is no duty placed on health agencies to deliver support and local authorities are only required to secure the educational provision that a child or young person requires.
Duty on clinical commissioning groups
The new duty to provide health support will mean that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will be under a duty to secure the health services in the plan. This might include specialist services like physiotherapy, and speech and language therapy.
“This new duty could be a huge step forward in improving support for children and young people,” said Dan Scorer, Mencap’s senior campaigns and policy manager.
“Many people with a learning disability – particularly those with profound and multiple learning disabilities – have serious health needs and Mencap is aware of cases where these have not been met. This can have a major impact on a young person’s ability to learn and develop, as well as their general health and wellbeing.
“We look forward to seeing the detail of what the government has promised, but Mencap warmly welcomes the principle behind it. This has the potential to transform support for children and young people, making health an equal partner in special educational provision. It will also give families new rights to complain if services are not being delivered.”
UPDATE (14 March)
The government has confirmed that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and the NHS Commissioning Board will be under a duty to deliver the health provision set out in the new EHCPs.
The new duty will apply to both therapies and specialist health services for children and young people if they are named on a plan. People with profound and multiple learning disabilities have particularly complex health needs and so could benefit hugely from arrangements that ensure their specialist needs are actually delivered.