Disabled Children Wait Too Long For Vital Treatment

Service Cuts Mean Some Children Waiting Over Two Years For Diagnosis


Spending cuts mean some children are waiting more than two years for a disability diagnosis, missing out on vital therapy and support as a result.
A new survey by the British Academy of Childhood Disability (BACD) contacted 200 paediatricians who lead child development teams across the UK. More than a third of the respondents said their teams had been cut by up to 20%.
Nearly three-quarters said waiting times had increased, and 80% said they could not meet guidelines set by health watchdog the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
One paediatrician told the BBC that doctors routinely made decisions that actually delayed child care in order to meet 18-week referral targets.
The delay in diagnosis and treatment means children are left in pain, sometimes missing out on years of education.
The Department of Health, responding to the survey, said there had been an increase in the number of paediatricians employed. It did not indicate whether these doctors were specifically for children with disabilities.
A spokesperson for the Department said: "Children with learning disabilities deserve the best possible care and a timely diagnosis.
"Decisions on spending are made locally, but we are working to help join up health, education, and social care services to make sure they get the care they need as quickly as possible."

Expert Opinion
All patients should be able to access high quality care and treatment when they need it the most, so it is clear that the very serious concerns raised by this study need to be thoroughly investigated.

"Patients of all ages should be able to gain the vital support they need, but this is particularly core when it comes to the health of young people who could go on to suffer long-term issues without the appropriate support.

"Every effort must be made to ensure that young people benefit from a coordinated approach which regards their welfare as the highest priority."
Julie Lewis, Partner