New help for children in care

A NEW health service is to be launched next week specially for youngsters who are in care.Health assessments are to be given to every child who is taken into care and become what is termed as 'looked after children.

A NEW health service is to be launched next week specially for youngsters who are in care.

Health assessments are to be given to every child who is taken into care and become what is termed as 'looked after children.'

Care plans are then to be set up for them so they can be guaranteed to get any specialist care they need, whether it is physical or emotional.

The service is a result of team work by health, social care and education to make sure youngsters in need of medical care do not slip through the net.

Community paediatrician Dr Kamni Anand is designated doctor for the service.

She said that looked after children often have greater health needs than their peers, but until now have had more difficulty accessing services.

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Often because youngsters would move around a lot they would miss appointments and be added to the bottom of another waiting list.

Now health services will be alerted to their movement because they are working in league with social care, who move them and the youngsters will become a priority rather than being on the bottom of a list.

In Suffolk there are 700 youngsters aged under 18 in the care of the local authority and only 300 of those are older than 12.

More than half of the children entering local care in the county have suffered abuse or neglect, both physical and emotional.

Around three quarters of the youngsters also suffer from mental health or behavioural difficulties.

A large percentage of the children also have learning difficulties.

Dr Anand said: "Roughly half of the children have a health need that requires an outpatient appointment – anything from an eye check through to orthopaedics.

"That is quite a high figure.

"Not all of the children need specialist care but sometimes it might be more about advising their carers how to look after the children."

Once a child has been assessed and a care plan has been put in place they will then be able to get in touch with a nurse specialist in their area.

Older children will also be involved in setting out their care plans so they can agree with what is being arranged.

There will be a nurse specialist in West Suffolk, two in the East and one in the North. The headquarters will be at Violet Hill House in Stowmarket.

Nurse specialists will have a variety of backgrounds to be able to help the youngsters with what they need.

A document has also been produced for all the agencies involved to see what policies are in place and who has what responsibility.

It will also be there for patients and carers to see what help they can expect.

The service is due to be launched next Thursday.

Dr Anand said: "This is a very exciting time for us.

"It is quite sad that there is actually a need for us to have to establish to promote their health.

"It can only get better from here."

n. To contact the Health Service for Looked After Children call 01449 776055.

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