Call for more medical involvement in care planning for special school pupils

County councillors explored how medical care is being provided to children in Lancashire's special schools
County councillors explored how medical care is being provided to children in Lancashire's special schools
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New guidelines are being drawn up to clarify who is responsible for providing medical care for children in Lancashire’s special schools.

The move is in response to a report by a group of county councillors which found that the “goodwill” of unqualified support staff was sometimes being relied upon to carry out clinical tasks.

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Their investigation heard from special school headteachers who said that staff were being expected “to make medical judgements about complex pupils on a daily basis”.

Specialist medical care in a school setting is provided by the region’s clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).

Lancashire County Council has pledged to devise new local guidance after the task group recommended the creation of a framework to “clarify the roles, responsibilities and accountability of both education and health professionals [about] what is deemed to be a basic care intervention and a medical intervention”.

The authority will consider writing to the government to request a review of national statutory guidelines about medical provision in all schools.

The task group also put a series of recommendations to CCGs in the county council area – including a call for a medical professional to attend meetings where support plans are put in place for individual children with particular needs.

One headteacher described NHS attendance as “patchy” – but admitted that their presence was not required in every case.

“We need a promise that those [meetings] which are deemed necessary will be attended,” said Gail Beaton, headteacher at Acorns Primary School in Preston.

“If there was a mechanism whereby we could flag up when we would really like you to attend, that would be…incredibly helpful,” she added.

In their formal response to the recommendations, the county’s CCGs promised to “establish a set of principles “ to dictate when health professionals should be directly involved in drawing up eductaion, health and care plans (ECHPs)

Representing all CCGs at a meeting of Lancashire County Council’s children’s services scrutiny committee, Lesley Tiffen, from Fylde and Wyre CCG, said the NHS would consider “strengthening its response”.

“Once the schedule [of meetings] comes out, we could look at whether we could get our designated clinical officers to…identify a health professional [to attend] where it is appropriate. [But] I can’t promise that we can send [a representative] to every meeting,” Ms Tiffen said.

All special schools and health providers in the county have also been surveyed by CCGs in response to a task group recommendation to ensure an “equitable” service for pupils with medical needs.

The meeting heard that school responses indicated that there were currently different levels of support in different areas.

Findings from the surveys will be collated by September before CCGs determine what action needs to be taken in response.