CQC Reviews Disabled Children’s Services                            

The continuing issue of provision of services for children with disabilities again reached the national forum this week following the publication of a review from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

You can read the CQC’s summary and press release on their review here:


The CQC exists to ensure that hospitals, care homes and care services are meeting national government standards. Their review of services available to children with disabilities arrived at a number of conclusions:

  • “Access to services for this group is variable across England.
  • Families felt access to and involvement in services was a challenge and that they waited too long for access to services and for initial diagnosis.
  • Contributors to the review also felt services were not joined up and that different services did not work well together.
  • Many disabled children and their families also reported they had not been consulted on how their care had been provided.
  • There appears to be significant disparity between the experiences of disabled children and their families, which is overwhelmingly negative, and the data supplied by primary care trusts, which shows high levels of access and user-centred care
  • The national average wait for a referral for community physiotherapy was seven weeks, with some children waiting up to six months.
  • The average wait for a referral to a community occupational therapist was 15 weeks with the wait ranging up to two years.
  • Average waits for manual wheelchairs were nine weeks ranging to over a year in some cases.
  • The average wait for a speech and language therapy referral was around 12 weeks – many waits ranged to eight months and one PCT reported waits of up to six years.”

Impacting on Commissioning

Sue McMillan, who is CQC’s head of operational improvement, reported: “This review gives disabled children and their families the tools they need to hold their local commissioners to account.”

  • “We are disappointed a proportion of PCTs were unable to provide the data we asked for and we’re calling on them to improve the information they hold.”
  • “Its vital that commissioners know how many disabled children live in their areas and what the referral patterns and numbers are to the local services.”
  • “If commissioners don’t have information about the children and services they’re responsible for, how do they know they are meeting the needs of the communities?”
  • “This vulnerable group often have complex and long-term specialist health needs and commissioners should be managing these needs better.”

Responses from the Third Sector

The Every Disabled Child Matters campaign published a prompt response to the review’s conclusions, which can be viewed here:


They raised a number of further concerns in response to the review:

“Even more worrying wqs the fact that PCTs demonstrated an extremely worrying lack of awareness of the needs of local disabled children.”

  • Five PCTS claimed that no disabled children and young people lived in their area.
  • Fifty Five PCTs did not monitor whether services allocated as a result of Common Assessment Framework were delivered.
  • Sixty three PCTs didn’t know how many children were referred for manual wheelchairs and nine said children were waiting over 51 weeks for wheelchairs.
  • Fifteen PCTs said they didn’t provide short breaks services.”

The campaign also noted that although CQC had collated and published the information, they had not provided any recommendations for further action to improve services for children with disabilities.

If you think that your child may benefit from support with their developing communication skills, Integrated Treatment Services could be of help.  Contact us here:


Sarah Bennington, March 2012

Written on behalf of Integrated Treatment Services. Integrated Treatment services is a private Speech and Language Therapy service based in Leicestershire, East Midlands and Southern England. It specialises in providing highly-skilled Speech and Language Therapists, but also associates with other therapeutic professionals, including Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Psychologists and Arts Psychotherapists.

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