DCP survey shows a picture of declining quality of services and more cuts to come

Parent-carers’ confidence in the quality of disabled children’s health and social care services is at an all-time low, new evidence from the Disabled Children’s Partnership shows.

The vast majority (75%) of the 1,500 of parent carers surveyed by DCP – a coalition of over 60 disability charities – said that the quality of health services to support their children had grown significantly worse in the past few years. The research also found:

  • 65 per cent felt that the quality of social care was in a similar decline.
  • Nearly half (45%) said that they were aware of imminent plans to reduce social and health care services for families with disabled children in their local area.

The consequences of this are:

  • Disabled children are waiting too long for support, affecting their health and progress.
  • Families are forced to fundraise for vital equipment or treatments that are underprovided by the bodies who have a statutory obligation to do so.
  • Families are fighting through the courts for services which they desperately need.

The findings are published today (28 June), as the House of Lords is debating the challenges facing disabled people in the UK.

Stephen Kingdom, Campaign Manager at DCP, said: “Disabled children’s services are under intense pressure as cuts to local authority and health budgets continue to chip away at vital services. Not surprisingly, this is having an impact on the quality of services disabled children receive.

“Parents tell us a whole range of factors affect the quality of services their children receive, including waiting months or longer for important appointments, poor staff training and knowledge about additional needs, and lack of availability of adaptations and specialist equipment.”

The number of disabled children receiving social care is reducing. This is despite the number of disabled children in the UK increasing by 33% over the past 10 years.

Michelle Bennett from Liverpool whose seven-year-old son has autism, said: “Services here are pretty dire. Social care is pretty much non-existent except for the most severely disabled children. I’ve never met a disabled children’s social worker, neither have any of the mums in the parent run support groups I go to. I’ve been on a waiting list to see the continence team for over a year, still no sign of an appointment. We’ve been on the short breaks waiting list since he was three-years-old and are yet to receive support. Carers assessments for parents of disabled children don’t seem to exist here either.”

Stephen Kingdom added: “What is certain is that a lack of quality services can hamper a disabled child’s development and progress. That’s why we are calling on central government to provide ministerial leadership for disabled children and provide dedicated funding for disabled children’s services.”

The full survey report is available here.