The Health and Wellbeing Boards bring together key leaders from the local health and care system to develop a shared understanding of the health and care needs of their local communities and how to address them. They are intended to drive local integration between health, social care and wider partners and reduce health inequalities.
But with the many priorities that these new bodies will have, the charities Every Disabled Child Matters and The Children’s Trust, based at Tadworth in Surrey have launched our Disabled Children’s Charter for Health and Wellbeing Boards to ensure that children with special needs, health conditions and disabilities stay at the top of the agenda.
Because these children often need to access services from across the spectrum of health and care and specialist education services, they are especially vulnerable to suffer the effects of a lack of integration and cooperation between the providers of these services. This can lead to their needs not being adequately met or their families having additional financial burdens placed upon them.
By [date within 1 year of signing the Charter] our Health and Wellbeing Board will provide evidence that:
1. We have detailed and accurate information on the disabled children and young people living in our area, and provide public information on how we plan to meet their needs.
2. We engage directly with disabled children and young people and their participation is embedded in the work of our Health and Wellbeing Board.
3. We engage directly with parent carers of disabled children and young people and their participation is embedded in the work of our Health and Wellbeing Board.
4. We set clear strategic outcomes for our partners to meet in relation to disabled children, young people and their families, monitor progress towards achieving them and hold each other to account.
5. We promote early intervention and support for smooth transitions between children and adult services for disabled children and young people.
6. We work with key partners to strengthen integration between health, social care and education services, and with services provided by wider partners.
7. We provide cohesive governance and leadership across the disabled children and young people’s agenda by linking effectively with key partners
The Charter is accompanied by a document: Why sign the Charter? which explains the value of the Charter commitments with reference to Health and Wellbeing Board statutory duties and powers, and signposts Health and Wellbeing Boards to resources that will help them fulfil each commitment. It also includes a guide to the evidence that Health and Wellbeing Boards could provide to demonstrate that they have met the Charter commitments.
The Government recently responded to the report of the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum by releasing ‘Better Health Outcomes for Children and Young People: Our Pledge’. This set out the shared ambitions for all agencies in the new health system to improve the health outcomes of children and young people in England. This Charter is aimed at providing a tool for Health and Wellbeing Boards to deliver on these ambitions for a key group of its local population.
The EDCM & The Children's Trust have jointly sent the Disabled Children’s Charter to every Health and Wellbeing Board in England and asked the Chair to sign it.
You can support their campaign by sending an email to your Health and Wellbeing Board Chair and urging them to sign it too. Find your local Health & Wellbeing Board here or just search for your top-level Local Authority where you live and "Health & wellbeing board"
Looking at our own HWB in Surrey, the board does not have any representatives from the voluntary/community/minority services or any parent representation. I find this something of an anomaly in these new days of transparency and co-production.
What does your local HWB board look like? Does it give you confidence that it will sign up to and can deliver the Disabled Children's Charter?