After new figures from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) revealed it had been using significantly out-of-date data regarding the number of disabled children in the UK, Newlife and the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) have called on the Government to prioritise meeting the unmet needs of disabled children.

Official figures from research commissioned by the DWP revealed that there are more disabled children in the UK than ever before and that the five-year-old figures the government had been working to were short by 300,000 children.

The ‘actual’ latest figures show an increase of 15 percent in the number of disabled children last year alone – explaining why local health and social care services are drastically failing to provide the care, support and equipment they need.

Andrew Barker, Interim Director General at the BHTA, commented: “This is an alarming update and a sad indictment on us all when some of society’s most vulnerable and their families are left to fend for themselves. Our own report published by our Children’s Equipment section highlights that any such unmet needs today will result in these children facing many more problems in later life.”

A recent paper released by the BHTA’s Children’s section emphasised that children’s equipment was currently “under-provided by the bodies which have a statutory obligation to ensure that the needs of disabled children are met”, leading to worsening existing conditions and more pain & suffering.

Lord Chris Rennard MBE, Director of Communications at the BHTA, said: “BHTA Children’s’ Equipment Section says that disabled children’s unmet needs must be addressed urgently or they will face many more problems in later life.”

The conclusions of the BHTA’s paper were echoed by Newlife. The leading disabled children’s charity says over half of families with disabled children report that their child’s health has suffered as a result of delays in the assessment of their needs. 45% of families added that poor communication between health and social care services had also negatively impacted on the health and wellbeing of their child.

CEO of Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, Sheila Brown, OBE said: “Disabled children are suffering, in severe pain, with their lives in danger because of a lack of essential equipment to meet their needs. How can Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Authorities and Local Education Authorities adequately plan, budget and provide the services disabled children need if they’re using figures that are more than five years out of date and forget 300,000 disabled children?  Every disabled child deserves to be counted and have services in place that meet their needs.”

With official figures revealing that there are now 1.1 million disabled children in the UK, Newlife will shortly launch an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) to look at the issues effecting equipment provision for disabled children in the UK.

Sheila continued: “By correcting its own information, the government has a real opportunity to improve service planning for disabled and terminally ill children and urgently improve essential services.  Recognising that there are 1.1 million disabled children, 300,000 more than the 0.8 million figures they use, will enable local commissioners to plan much more effectively on the level of need and support required.

“It’s time statutory services stepped up and addressed the fact that thousands of disabled children are relying on charities like Newlife for essential equipment and support, yet the law is clear in protecting these children’s rights.”

In a bid to further improve the situation for the families of disabled children, Newlife has sought Barrister advice to establish the legal rights of children and families to help healthcare professionals challenge decisions made at local level, in relation to statutory obligations for providing equipment. Newlife will publish its full Barrister’s report later this year.

To read the BHTA’s ‘Failing Disabled Children across the UK’, click HERE

To find out more about Newlife, visit the website HERE

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