Comment

Planet Rachael: A long way from home

Children with disabilities are still being forced to travel unacceptable distances to receive the specialist care they deserve.
Some children with learning disabilities are living many miles from their families

Controversy surrounds us. The new US president seems to be intent on dominating the front-page headlines with his trigger-happy tweets, and there is constant unrest over the realities of Brexit, so perhaps this is a good time to bury bad news.

In a quiet corner of my newspaper I read an article about the picture of specialist care provision in pockets of the UK and it wasnt one for the family album.

In the article the Council for Disabled Children argued that care remains fragmented, there is no clear vision for treatment and there is a lack of accountability in relation to the non-delivery of policy. The article went further, accusing the government of breaching human rights by not ensuring the children had access to

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Controversy surrounds us. The new US president seems to be intent on dominating the front-page headlines with his trigger-happy tweets, and there is constant unrest over the realities of Brexit, so perhaps this is a good time to ‘bury bad news’.

In a quiet corner of my newspaper I read an article about the picture of specialist care provision in pockets of the UK and it wasn’t one for the family album.


Some parents are given no choice but to send their children to different
counties to receive specialist care. Picture: Alamy

In the article the Council for Disabled Children argued that care remains fragmented, there is no clear vision for treatment and there is a lack of accountability in relation to the non-delivery of policy. The article went further, accusing the government of breaching human rights by not ensuring the children had access to local education, family and community life.

I winced reading about the trauma caused to a family whose autistic son was sent to a school 300 miles away from his loved ones. I was transported back 20 years to when, in exactly the same position, we were forced to place my daughter Rachael in a school in another county.

That was your choice you might be thinking, but the alternative was two hours a week home tuition. So, there really was no choice.

No choice

Two decades later the guilt of that decision remains palpable. In its defence the government call this an ‘act of last resort’. I would argue you can’t defend the indefensible. 

The Transforming Care programme was supposed to better the lives of people with disability significantly. To date, the programme has cost £1.4 billion and still, it was argued in the article, there is no relevant provision in London, south east and south west England.

Apparently, the Department of Health is working on a solution. They need to get on with it.


About the author

Wendy Johnson is a matron in a general hospital

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