The government today pledged £340m for the child health strategy to boost care for children with life-limiting conditions, introduce short breaks and provide equipment for disabled children.
This allocation, which is for the three years 2008-9 to 2010-11, comes in addition to the £340m revenue funding already announced to back the Aiming High for Disabled Children programme.
Children’s care plans
The strategy, Healthy lives, brighter futures, promised individual care plans for all children with complex health needs by 2010 and expanded provision for equipment including wheelchairs. It also set out plans to develop a framework for commissioning and procuring specialist equipment.
A pilot scheme to provide intensive support to first-time mothers, known as the Family Partnership Programme, will also be expanded from 30 to 70 sites by 2011 with a view to rolling it out nationally.
Other measures include a strengthened role for Sure Start Children’s Centres and better engagement of GPs with Children’s Trusts.
Unveiling the strategy today, health secretary Alan Johnson (pic right) said the £340m funding would help improve the experience of disabled children and their families.
Disability organisations widely welcomed the strategy. Alice Maynard, chair of Scope, said plans to improve access to equipment and support would particularly help children with communication impairments.
“Current provision by local service providers of communications equipment and support for children is very disjointed. The proposed framework should help services work together in a more holistic way to provide better support for disabled children and their families,” she said.
Maynard also applauded the move to introduce individualised care plans. “Many parents of disabled children, particularly parents of children with complex needs, face an uphill battle to identify and access the health services to which they are entitled,” she added.
Welcome for end-of -life care
Charities Children’s Hospices UK and ACT welcomed the allocation of £30m of the total funding to meet commitments on palliative and end-of-life care.
Lizzie Chambers, chief executive of ACT, said: “The government has put its money where its mouth is to help children with shortened lives. Families will now expect services to improve on the ground, starting with 24-hour nursing at home.”
The NHS Confederation said the major challenge in implementing the strategy would be ensuring that local agencies worked together.
Mencap also called on the government to make sure that children with learning disabilities did not suffer discrimination or poor treatment.