An influential group of over 100 children’s charities, teaching unions and other organisations, which includes the RCPCH, penned an open letter to Downing Street, demanding that the Government recognise compelling evidence that the services and support that children and young people rely on are at breaking point.
The letter, sent to both the Prime Minister and Chancellor ahead of next week's budget, highlights the pressing challenges facing services and other support for children, showing that:
- less than a third of children and young people with a diagnosable mental health problem will get access to NHS funded treatment this year
- only three in a hundred families of disabled children think the health and care services available to their children are adequate
- almost three-quarters of school leaders expect they will be unable to balance their budgets in the next financial year
- the number of children with special educational needs who are awaiting provision has more than doubled since 2010
- up to three million children are at risk of going hungry during school holidays
- ninety children are being taken into care every day – this is a record high.
In response to calls led by the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said:
As doctors, we are only too aware of the pressures placed upon children’s health services and know for many, the problem has reached emergency status. Take mental health as an example. In England over the last two decades, the proportion of children and young people saying they have a mental health condition has grown six fold but we have a service that cannot keep up with demand, leading to a large number of these children not being able to get the help they need.
Just last week we launched a report which revealed just how bleak the child health landscape could become if we don’t act now to protect it – compared to other wealthy comparable nations, reported mental health problems may increase by 60% and nearly one-third of England’s most deprived boys could be obese.
The Government has already indicated it is serious about protecting child health with the publication of its Childhood Obesity Plan which if delivered, will turn the tide on these obesity predictions. However the Chancellors upcoming budget, along with the Government’s Long Term Plan, provide an opportunity to renew that focus and show support for other important child health concerns and I look forward to working alongside them to do so.