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Nottinghamshire health partnership apologises for delays in services for children and young people with SEND

The partnership responsible for commissioning and planning the services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Nottinghamshire has apologised that children and young people are waiting too long to receive specialist educational health care assessments and the therapies they need.

in February, a SEND local area inspection by Ofsted and Care Quality Commission took place which has highlighted significant concerns about the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with SEND in Nottinghamshire.  The partnership has been asked to address these concerns urgently.

There are currently 16,000 children and young people in Nottinghamshire with SEND. Over the last five years, the number of requests for Education Health and Care assessments have more than doubled.

The report, published on 16 May, identified two priority actions that Nottinghamshire Local Area Partnership is required to address urgently.

Firstly, they need to:

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  • identify, assess and provide for the needs of children and young people with SEND. This includes an assessment of needs, timely issuing of Education and Health and Care (EHC) plans and holistic oversight of these plans through annual reviews.

Secondly, NHS leaders, commissioners and providers are required to:

  • act urgently to identify and address the delays and gaps in access to some health services, particularly speech and language therapy, neuro-developmental pathways and equipment services. NHS Leaders are also required to work together better to use available performance data to identify where gaps exist and whether actions taken to address these are effective.

A Nottinghamshire SEND Partnership Improvement Board has been established to oversee the improvement actions needed. This Board will be chaired independently by a recognised sector expert, Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of the Council for Disabled Children.

Colin Pettigrew, Director of Children’s and Families’ services at Nottinghamshire County Council. “We are sorry that that too many children and young people are waiting far too long for their needs to be identified, diagnosed, assessed and that we need to work better across the Partnership to ensure their needs are met.

“We accept the findings of the report and we are committed to working across the partnership to improve the experience of children and young people with SEND.

“There has been a substantial increase in demand and an acute shortage of the specialists to meet that need, such as speech and language therapists, educational psychologists, specialist teachers, social workers and specialist nurses.  We cannot meet the increased demand based on the shortage of specialists available. This is simply not good enough and we appreciate the impact this is having on children and young people and their families.

“Children and young people with SEND are supported by health, education and care providers across the county including 350 schools, nurseries, and colleges as well as local authority, health services and private and voluntary sector organisations. It is vital we work together as a system to improve the experiences for children and young people and their families.

“We are pleased that inspectors concluded that all partnership leaders and professionals want the best for children and young people with SEND in Nottinghamshire and their families.  It is our joint responsibility to make sure we back this up with stronger leadership and timely and effective access to the assessments and therapies children and young people need.”

Amanda Sullivan, Chief Executive of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board, which is responsible for the delivery and oversight of commissioned services such as speech and language therapy, said: “We are sorry that the experiences and outcomes of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities are not as good as they should be.

“The report rightly highlights the priorities we need to focus on to improve the overall experience of children and young people, including access to speech and language and other therapies and equipment.

“We are working with the Nottinghamshire Parent Carer Forum and children and young people with SEND and their families to develop and agree our improvement plan to make sure their views will directly influence the actions we’re committing to.

“We are also working closely with Nottinghamshire County Council to address this urgently and I welcome the appointment of an independent chair to have critical oversight of our improvement plans.”

Nottinghamshire Parent Carer Forum (NPCF) is a registered charity run by, and for, parent carers of children or young people with an additional need and/or a disability. They gather the collective voice and experiences of families in Nottinghamshire and then work in partnership with the Local Authority, education, health, and social care to help improve services, provision, and outcomes.

They ensure that the needs and wishes of children and young people, parents and carers are represented and listened to by all those involved in planning and delivering services. The forum’s lead, Georgina Palmer said:

“Sadly, the findings of the inspection reflect the experiences and concerns that families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) often communicate with the forum. Prompt action must be taken to address the issues raised in the report.

“Nottinghamshire Parent Carer Forum played an important role in the inspection by representing parents’ views and experiences and we are hopeful that the report will lead to significant change and provide the momentum needed to make genuine improvements for children, young people, and their families.

“Looking ahead, there is a considerable amount of work to be done and the forum remains committed to working collaboratively and in partnership with the local authority, the Integrated Care Board and others, on the development of a robust improvement plan that will ensure that real change does occur.

“Listening to the experiences and perspectives of families and putting the needs of children and young people with SEND at the centre of plans, we are optimistic that positive outcomes can be achieved.”

For more information about how the partnership is addressing concerns and to read the report: SEND Ofsted inspection Nottinghamshire 2023 | Nottinghamshire County Council

•  ‘Widespread failings’ in services for Nottinghamshire children with special needs

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