New Remedies For Children’s Health & Social Care
From April 2018, families and Deputies who are dissatisfied with the outcome of an Education Health and Care assessment can challenge this, not only by way of complaint or judicial review, but also at the First Tier Tribunal.
In a two year national trial from 3 April, the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability) will have the power to make non-binding recommendations as to the health and social care needs and provision that should be specified in a child or young person’s Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
Regulations require that the local authority or responsible health commissioning body responds to the Tribunal’s recommendation within 5 weeks, unless the Tribunal sets a different limit. The response to the child’s parents, or the young person, must confirm in writing what steps, if any, it has decided to take after considering the recommendation. It must give reasons if the recommendation is not followed, or is only followed in part.
An earlier pilot in 17 Local Authority areas found that the recommendation power could improve coordination between the different agencies who are delivering services under EHC plans, and promote earlier dispute resolution.
Currently, as highlighted in the recent judicial review of CP v North East Lincolnshire Council  EWHC 220 (Admin), families are obliged to challenge different elements of the EHC plan in different venues. This unnecessarily increases legal costs and prevents the holistic consideration of needs and provision that was one of the main objectives of the new regime when the Children and Families Act 2014 was passed.
At a time when budgets are under severe pressure, it remains to be seen how NHS commissioners and social services departments will respond to non-binding recommendations for increased provision. We hope that the vast majority of the Tribunal’s recommendations will be followed, as is the case with non-binding health and social care Ombudsmen reccomendations.
Our specialist health and social care lawyers look forward to engaging with this new regime. We frequently advise on Education, Health and Care Plans as part of our Services for Professional Deputies, challenging plans that have inadequately assessed a child or young person’s needs or failed to make proper provision for those needs.
This ability to challenge all aspects of the EHCP, in one legal process, should result in better outcomes for disabled children and young people.
If you are a Professional Deputy and would like to find out more about Martin Searle Solicitor’s Services for Professional Deputies & Attorneys, please contact our expert Community Care Law team today on 01273 609911, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.