News story legal challenge

7th January 2019 • Emma Cooper

The NHS Long Term Plan, drawn up by frontline health and care staff, patient groups and other experts has been released today. It promises to improve care for patients over the next 10 years but how does this translate for children and young adults with additional needs? My Family, Our Needs has broken some key aspects of the plan down for you:

• Providing extra support for expectant mothers at risk of premature birth
• Taking further action on childhood obesity
• Increasing funding for children and young people’s mental health
• Reducing waiting times for autism assessments
• Providing the right care for children with a learning disability
• Delivering the best treatments available for children with cancer

The report also promises greater collaboration between GP’s, their teams and community services, as ‘primary care networks,’ to increase the services they can provide jointly and increase the focus on NHS organisations working with their local partners.

In particular, a focus on autism and reducing the time it takes to receive a diagnosis will be a welcome start for many. The plan details:

3.33. Children and young people with suspected autism wait too long before being provided with a diagnostic assessment. Over the next three years, autism diagnosis will be included alongside work with children’s and young people’s mental health services to test and implement the most effective ways to reduce waiting times for specialist services. This will be a step towards achieving timely diagnostic assessments in line with best practice guidelines. Together with local authority children’s social care and education services as well as expert charities, we will jointly develop packages to support children with autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and their families, throughout the diagnostic process.

National Autistic Society Campaigns reacted to this on Twitter by saying, ‘It’s fantastic to see reducing autism diagnosis feature in the #NHSLongTermPlan. We’ve campaigned on this for many years. We need more detail but it’s a good start.’

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind said, ‘We are really pleased to see that mental health is such a key focus in the NHS long term plan and we welcome the £2.3bn set aside for mental health services. This is the kind of sustained investment we need to see to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health and, if delivered, this plan will make a difference to the lives of thousands of people with mental health problems.

‘Everyone now needs to work together to develop the workforce needed and to deliver these plans and to ensure the money reaches the frontline. Local decision makers need to develop their own plans and the proof of delivery will be in the experiences of people trying to access the services they need.’

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said, ‘…Children and young people’s health will be a priority with the introduction of a new transformative programme to oversee delivery of commitments for the next ten years. From bringing mental and physical care together to services for 0-25 years so that care is timely and continuous.’

Read the full NHS Long Term Plan or follow #NHSLongTermPlan on social media to read the latest reactions.