PCTs in England are not able to specify how much funding they will be spending on essential health services for disabled children, the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign revealed today.
This is despite disabled children being a local priority group in this year’s NHS Operating Framework, coupled with repeated assurances from ministers that PCTs have additional baseline funding for disabled children and children with palliative care needs, and that they are expected to match local authority children’s services spending commitments.
The charity coalition wrote to every PCT in England asking questions about spend on disabled children. The 30 responses received revealed confusion at a senior level as to how health service funding is allocated and spent.
The survey showed PCT’s lack of clarity about how the current NHS funding system is operating. Some PCTs were awaiting further information from the Department of Health "which will determine how much of the new national funding has been allocated to each PCT" while others said that "new funding has gone into PCT baseline budgets [which] is actually part of the PCT’s general uplift and is not ring fenced for disabled children" – suggesting that without ringfencing, it may not be spent on disabled children’s services.
Lizzie Chambers, Chief Executive of ACT, commented: "Children’s palliative care services, which provide essential support for small numbers of children with high levels of need has always relied on patchy and unsustainable funding. The lack of clarity about funding for this highly vulnerable group of children is a real test for the new devolved NHS".
Speaking in Parliament recently, Children’s Secretary Ed Balls urgedMPs and parents to hold to account PCTs who did not fund servicessufficiently.