This discussion is reported in CDC Digest page 15.
Integrated care around babies and infants who need extra support for their development and learning is my dream, and has been for a few decades now. It is not difficult to achieve once the practitioners supporting a child and family have the will to achieve it. When it works, it is a positive experience for everyone.
Do I think a parliamentary group is going to make it happen? Not a chance. What happens at those elevated levels in unlikely to filter down to where children and families are. I fail to be inspired by such assertions as:
...’importantly, Edward Argar MP – the Minister for Health and Social Care – gave a commitment to develop “bespoke guidance for Integrated Care Systems on meeting the needs of babies, children and young people”’
Or when we are told from above:
‘... the needs of children need to be at the heart of integrated care.’
I feel all the important and well-paid mouths are flapping but I doubt any usable wind is being generated.
In the 2000s we had excellent models of integrated care in Christine Lenehan’s Early Support. It was clear, straightforward and it worked. So, what happened to it? Quoting from Early Child and Family Support Principles and Prospects (p 63):
‘An example of a failed top-down approach was the work Interconnections did with the UK government. The then Labour government set up an innovative nation-wide Early Support project early in the 2000s and involved Interconnections in a minor way in its planning and promotion. TAC [Team Around the Child] became part of the new government guidance for supporting babies and infants who had multifaceted conditions...
'Very sadly, Early Support came to an end in 2015. First of all the 2008 banking crash meant local authorities were now starved of the cash they needed for new initiatives and the project gradually ran out of steam as the Labour government changed to a Conservative government in 2010. My impression is that the new government under David Cameron as prime minister did nothing to help keep the Early Support project going despite the Cameron family having an infant son with very significant disabilities.’
Life is strange indeed. My solution? In each locality get a few parents and practitioners together with senior managers. This is a start, from the bottom up. It will more likely have tea and biscuits than champagne and it will not require expensive train journeys to Westminster. But it will be real.
Peter Limbrick, April 2022