26/10/2005

Child Commissioner hits out at treatment of disabled

Children's Commissioner Nigel Williams has described the treatment of some disabled young people in Northern Ireland's hospitals as "appalling".

Mr Williams was responding to the first government report on medical treatment for disabled children in Northern Ireland, called 'Care at its best'. According to the report, disabled children were often treated on adult wards, something that national guidelines say should not happen.

"The fact that the Inspection Report has been undertaken will, I hope, signal real change," he said.

"However, the picture it paints of the treatment of some disabled young people is appalling. I call upon the Department of Health and all health and social services boards and trusts to act on its recommendations right away."

The Commissioner, however, welcomed the efforts to address care for disabled children and young people in hospitals.

Responding, Paul Martin, Chief Inspector, Social Services Inspectorate, DHSSPS, said the inspection of services for children in hospital, which is the first ever in Northern Ireland, "will have a significant impact on both hospital and community services for disabled children here".

"The report provides a framework of 80 recommendations to improve the service for children in hospital and their families," he continued. "These include more coordinated services planning, focused assessment and care planning for each child, professionals in hospital working better together as a team, improved communication and support for children and their families, enhanced staff training and development and ensuring that there are sufficient community services to support the work being carried out by hospitals.

Mr Martin confirmed that the DHSSPS was currently developing a Health and Social Services Strategic Framework for Children to keep pace with local, regional, national and international changes in service provision and policy for children.

"This Framework will be significantly informed by the 'Care at its Best' report," he concluded.

(MB/SP)

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