Campaigners have welcomed government action to clarify to primary care trusts (PCT) how they can improve the lives of disabled children with health problems.
The government wrote two letters to every PCT in England on 2 April explaining their duties on the healthcare of disabled children.
The move followed the government’s child health strategy, Healthy Lives, Brighter Futures, which was published in February and confirmed an extra £340 million for PCTs to spend on disabled children’s health services from 2008-09 to 2010-11, including £30 million for palliative care.
Children’s secretary Ed Balls and health secretary Alan Johnson wrote to every PCT chair in England to clarify that this £340 million – part of the extra £27.6 billion funding the Department of Health was making available to PCTs from 2008-11 – was for disabled children’s services.
They also explained the priorities for spending the extra money: short breaks for children with complex health needs; improved access to powered wheelchairs; better provision of community equipment to disabled children; and improved children’s palliative care services, particularly through developing children’s community nursing.
They said the extra funding provided an “unprecedented opportunity for local organisations to work in partnership to drive up the capacity, range and quality of services for disabled children and those with complex health needs”.
A second letter, from Christine Beasley, the chief nursing officer, and David Flory, director general NHS finance, told PCT chief executives that they would need to monitor progress and plan for future improvements to disabled children’s health services.
Every Disabled Child Matters – the campaign by four organisations working with disabled children and their families – said it welcomed the “clarity” provided by the letters from the government.