PCTs given guidance on delivering for disabled children

Campaign group Every Disabled Child Matters has given its backing to a new guide for primary care trusts in England on improving NHS provision for disabled children.

The guide, produced by the NHS Confederation in conjunction with EDCM, responds to concerns from the campaign group that PCTs have not been spending £340m allocated for disabled children’s services from 2008-11 on their desired purpose.

The funding was announced in February in the Department of Health’s child health strategy, which specified that it should be used to expand short breaks, provide community equipment and wheelchairs and expand palliative care provision.

Funding not ring-fenced

However, unlike equivalent local authority funding for disabled children, it is not ring-fenced, while PCTs have admitted they have struggled to identify funding for disabled children’s services, in correspondence with EDCM.

Reasons cited included funding being tied up in block contracts with providers within which elements for particular client groups are not disaggregated.

In response to intensive lobbying the Department of Health has told PCTs to produce a statement by 30 September to show how they intend to deliver those improvements.

Guide outlines best practice

Yesterday’s guide includes advice on what PCTs should include in their statements, and outlines best practice in delivering services in the priority areas laid out in the child health strategy.

An EDCM spokesperson said: “I think it’s a first step for PCTs. It will hopefully focus their minds on the autumn statement they’re being asked to produce.

“There’s been a whole series of commitments made by government responding to our call for greater accountability and transparency about what PCTs are doing for disabled children.

“But it is going to be really important to look at the information the DH gets back from PCTs to see whether they really are spending more on disabled children than before.”

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