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Disabled Children’s Service Review Result

March 22, 2012

A watchdog found that families felt they wait too long to access services for their disabled children

Disabled children and their families sometimes wait for up to a year for aids such as wheelchairs, a social care watchdog review has found.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found there were considerable variations in services provided in England with the national average wait for powered wheelchairs at three months. There were also delays in other services such as speech and language therapy (SALT) and physiotherapy, the commission said.

The national report and 151 local area reports also looked at the quality of support for children and young people including individual health action plans, whether PCTs involve families and children in the delivery of their care and whether families had access to short breaks.

Families felt access to and involvement in services was a challenge and that they waited too long for access to services and for initial diagnosis, the review discovered.

Other survey data showed the national average wait for a referral for community physiotherapy was seven weeks, with some children waiting up to six months and the average wait for a referral to a community occupational therapist was 15 weeks with the wait ranging up to two years.

CQC head of operational improvement, Sue McMillan, said: “This review gives disabled children and their families the tools they need to hold their local commissioners to account.

“We were disappointed a proportion of PCTs were unable to provide the data we asked for and we’re calling on them to improve the information they hold. This vulnerable group often have complex and long-term specialist health needs and commissioners should be managing these needs better.”

Whizz-Kidz chief executive Ruth Owen added: “We know there are an estimated 70,000 children in the UK who could benefit from the right mobility equipment. Providing a child the right wheelchair at the right time enhances their lives, giving them not just mobility but independence.”

She said that from April, the Government’s Any Qualified Provider policy would give young wheelchair-users the choice to be referred to providers like Whizz-Kidz if they were waiting to receive the mobility equipment.

The review looked at the views and experiences of disabled children and their families plus survey data from commissioners and acute hospitals from September 2009 to September 2010.

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