The NHS Long Term plan was published in January this year. The plan contains many goals that are both welcome and necessary to the lives of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). For example:
- Funding for children and young people’s mental health services to grow faster than both overall NHS funding and total mental health spending.
- Improvements around autism diagnosis
- All children and young people with a learning disability, autism or both with the most complex needs to have a designated keyworker by 2023/24
Since its publication, the NNPCF have been involved in numerous conversations with members of the senior NHS England leadership to ensure that the SEND agenda is given a high priority and that the voice of parent-carers is heard in decision making at both a national and a local level.
Many of the details of the governance and implementation of the plan are still in development but some important aspects have been confirmed:
- A new children and young people’s stakeholder council is being set up. The purpose of this group is to provide oversight, accountability and governance for those aspects of the long term plan that relate to children and young people. NNPCF co-chair, Mrunal Sisodia, will be sitting on the stakeholder council. This group as complementary to the SEND system leadership board that has been set up by the Department for Education and at which the NNPCF also have a place.
- A new NHS Children and Young People’s transformation board will be responsible for the delivery of the long term plan for children and young people. This board has met once already and is made up of NHS project managers and leaders. NHS leaders are still in the process of agreeing how parents will be represented on this group, the NNPCF are a part of these conversations.
- There will be ten workstreams reporting into this board. They are: Keeping CYP well; Workforce; Data and Digital; Integrated Models of Care; Improving Quality; Voice and Experience; Mental Health; Cancer, Learning Disability and Autism; SEND.
- The boards for these workstreams are in the process of being formed. We can confirm that the NNPCF are represented on the Learning Disability and Autism and the SEND programmes. We are also exploring the right engagement for the NNPCF on the Workforce, Mental Health and Integrated Models of Care workstreams.
- The plan will be driven through a model of national policy setting, regional support and enablement and local implementation. We have re-iterated the need for local clinical commissioning groups and Integrated Care Systems to work with local parent carer forums.