Health commissioners are taking immediate action after a re-inspection of systems and services for children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) in Sefton.
In their report, inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) are critical of Sefton’s response to the significant areas of weakness they highlighted in their initial inspection.
Fiona Taylor, chief officer for Sefton’s two clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), said: “We fully acknowledge and accept the shortcomings of our health systems and services for SEND that inspectors’ found and we agree that the support these children and young people receive is far, far below what we and their families expect and for this we are deeply sorry.”
“We want to rebuild parent and carers confidence in the SEND system and whilst we understand this will take time, we will do all we can to work with them, together with Sefton Council and other health partners to make improvements for their children as swiftly as possible.”
In response, the CCGs are working with their partners in the local NHS and from Sefton Council on a joint plan to improve care for these children, young people and their families to address all areas of weakness. Additionally, the CCGs have taken immediate measures to begin to address the elements of health services that were highlighted by inspectors for improvement.
Fiona explained: “We are carrying out a rapid review of our arrangements for commissioning and monitoring SEND services and we are working closely with our dedicated, professional and compassionate healthcare staff to secure change for our children and young people.”
Inspectors did acknowledge in their findings some of the positive steps made by the CCGs to strengthen leadership for SEND and their investment of resources to accelerate improvement.
In response to the inspection, CCGs have made further investments to reduce waiting times whilst they review what more is needed for the longer term, working with NHS partners who provide these services.
Fiona said: “We’ve made immediate investments so 60 more children and young people can be seen each month by speech and language therapists to begin to bring unacceptable waiting times down.
“We made some significant investments last year to improve the different services that children and young people with autism and ADHD need support from, and now we’re further reviewing those services to make quicker progress.”
Across Sefton’s SEND partnership, inspectors also noted some progress for those key stage 2 children with an education and healthcare plan (EHC) in reading, writing and mathematics. Positive steps were also highlighted by inspectors around moves to better involve children and young people, through initiatives like the annual young persons’ workshops and the appointment of a ‘young advisors’ coordinator.
Fiona added: “We are working with services to ensure parents and carers are fully involved in designing and agreeing the health element of their child’s wider educational health and care plan, and that these plans are timely and are of the quality we all expect to enable our children and young people to make the good progress they deserve.”
Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton CCG, said: “The CCGs are committed to working closely with and listening to our children and parents in partnership with our health and council colleagues. There is much for us to do and we take our responsibilities seriously.”
Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, concluded: “The CCG will continue to work with the children and young people’s overview and scrutiny committee as we work towards a steep change in the pace of improvement work for children’s services.”
Ofsted and CQC inspection letters can be found on the Ofsted website from the following link www.reports.ofsted.gov.uk