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Government commits to develop guidance on transition of care

News and comment

Together for Short Lives welcomes the Government’s commitment to develop guidance for local councils on when to begin planning young people’s transition from children’s to adult’s services.

The commitment came from health minister Earl Howe during Wednesday’s (16 Oct) House of Lords debate on amendments tabled to the Care Bill. The changes tabled by Lord Patel, supported by the Together for Short Lives Transition Taskforce, were brought about to introduce an age threshold of 14 at which social care assessments should take place for young disabled people ahead of their transition to adult’s services. Lord Patel was supported by Crossbench Peer Baroness Ilora Finlay, an eminent palliative care clinician in Wales, and Conservative Baroness Gardner of Parkes. Labour’s shadow health minister in the Lords, Lord Hunt of King’s Heath, also asked Earl Howe what action he would take to ensure that child’s needs assessments take place in time.

In his speech, Lord Patel referred Lucy Watts – a young woman with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome – who has recently undergone a successful transition to adult’s services. He described why Lucy’s story demonstrated how important it is for young people and families with life-limiting conditions that their transition is planned well in advance of their 18th birthday.

Although the Government rejected Lord Patel’s amendments, Earl Howe said that he remained “absolutely committed to ensuring that the question of when to assess a child, carer or parent carer is further addressed in guidance. This will do justice to the broad range of needs and circumstances of young people and their families at the point of transition. Guidance will be developed with the involvement of stakeholders.”

Together for Short Lives still believes that age thresholds should be included in the Bill to bring much more reassurance about the future for young people who need palliative care and their families – and avoid potentially damaging cliff-edges in care. However, we will work with our Transition Taskforce partners and the Government to shape the guidance to local authorities for the benefit of young people with life-limiting conditions.

A transcript of the debate is available online  (see Column 565 from 5:18pm);
video footage is also available online (from 1 hour, 33 minutes and 10 seconds into the film).

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