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Agenda item


The purpose of the report is to respond to issues that were raised during the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee in June 2023 that related to access to health services for children and young people with SEND.


Mr Mike Chew, Divisional Director of Operations, Families and Integrated Community Care Division, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals (BTH), presented the report outlining the progress made in improving access to services for children and young people with SEND.


In respect of Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) waiting times had been improved through increased staffing capacity and better organisation of waiting lists through the appointment of a coordinator role and reducing the numbers of children not brought for appointments or who had cancelled their appointments.


At Blenheim Child Development Centre improved waiting times had been delivered through the securing of additional administrative support. However it had been recognised that waiting times remained above 52 weeks and that additional staffing resource was needed to address the issues. Increased recruitment resources had been put in place to address the issue and Mr Chew expressed the view that these actions would be successful in reducing waiting times to below 52 weeks.


Mr Chew also reported that there had been improvements in the Neuro-Development Pathway (NDP) through increased staffing which had reduced the waiting times from 130 weeks to 26 weeks. However he also stated that there was a need to be clearer on why waiting times existed, noting that waits could be generated by the time it took for information to be brought together to allow cases to proceed. There was a process known as “watchful wait” that had been introduced during the time that a diagnosis was developed to ensure patients and their families were kept informed. It was also reported that BTH would be working with the SEND Partnership and the Integrated Care Board (ICB) to develop a business case to secure increased priority funding for the NDP which would improve accessibility for children and young people.


Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) was discussed with Mr Chew reporting that nationally Blackpool benchmarked well but that there had been an increase in referrals which had created pressures on waiting times. In order that those on the waiting list remained supported and an overview of their wellbeing was retained CAMHS maintained contact with all those on the list. Recruitment of additional CAMHS staff was raised by the Committee with Mr Chew explaining that it was an issue. He highlighted that Blackpool had difficulty attracting quality individuals in a challenging national employment market. Work to address these issues included the development of incentives to working in Blackpool, however Mr Chew emphasised that whole system improvements would be a key feature in improving attractiveness to potential new staff.


The Committee highlighted that although those not accepted by CAMHS were informed of the reasons why they had not been accepted ongoing assistance was not always put in place. Mr Chew recognised that this should not be the case and emphasised the importance of listening to the experiences of those who interacted with services to ensure improvements could be identified.


The Committee noted that the report did not include details of “no-shows” at SLT appointments. Members understood that instances of children not being brought for appointments would contribute to increased waiting times and asked that the figures be provided for information.


Referrals on from the NDP were also discussed with the Committee informed that those who had been on the pathway and had received a referral to other services would be the subject of an additional waiting time. As this would result in further waiting for children and young people accessing help, the Committee asked that the numbers of those referred on be provided for information.


In addition to the work by BTH it was noted that waiting times were also impacted by features outside of health services such as housing and those not in employment education or training. Members therefore asked that the importance of partnership working between BTH, the SEND partnership, the ICB and other stakeholders within Blackpool in delivering improved access to services for children and young people be recognised.


The Committee agreed:


1.That the report be noted;

2.That details of “no-shows” for Speech and Language Therapy be provided to members of the committee for information; and

3.That details of waiting times for those referred on from the Neuro-Development Pathway be provided for information to members of the committee.

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