Disabled children let down by councils’ ‘unlawful’ blanket bans on equipment

Just getting to the end of each day is an achievement for the Giles' family from Sheffield. Pictured is mum of three Nikki Giles.
Just getting to the end of each day is an achievement for the Giles' family from Sheffield. Pictured is mum of three Nikki Giles.
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Disabled children are being let down by “unlawful” blanket bans by local authorities, who are failing to provide much-needed equipment to families, a charity has claimed.

Newlife, the Charity for Disabled Children, has called on the Government to help those children whose “lives are being put at risk” because they do not have access to equipment such as walking frames, specialist car seats and beds.

In Yorkshire, the charity said 82 per cent of local councils applied a blanket ban to providing specialist car seats - and of the two authorities that said they ‘would’, just one actually did in 2016/17.

Newlife also said that just nine per cent of eligible children were listed on disability registers across Yorkshire, leaving 84,363 “invisible” to public authorities.

The charity’s chief executive Sheila Brown said that made it “impossible” for authorities to budget and plan resources and services effectively in order to meet the need.

“This also explains why local health and social care services are drastically failing to provide the care, support and equipment they need,” she added.

It is also calling on the Government to call on local statutory services to establish emergency equipment response services, so that children in need of equipment urgently can get it to prevent injury, to allow hospital discharge and to relieve pain.

Nikki Giles from Sheffield has three children with additional needs, eight-year-old Isobel, who has ADHD and autism, and seven-year-old twins Max and Freddie, who have autism and severe learning difficulties.

In the last 18 months, the family has twice used Newlife’s Emergency Loan Service, which delivers specialist equipment to disabled children in crisis within 72 hours of request.

Both of the twins have needed safe space beds. At one stage, Max, who has no concept of danger, climbed onto the roof of their terraced house and was ready to jump.

Mrs Giles said: “Every day is a battle to keep Max safe from himself and the other children safe from Max. My biggest fear is he’ll escape and drown in the lake over the road. We do everything we can to keep him safe but it’s just not enough – we live in constant fear.”

A government spokesperson said it expects local authorities to commission services that meet the needs of their local populations.

She added: “Through our long term plan for the NHS we will be able to invest more in support for disabled children, with the health service receiving £20.5 billion a year more by 2024.”