Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary Memorandum from Western Health and Social Services Board


  Please find enclosed our response to the Supplementary Questions raised by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. The information draws on the existing information systems used in the Trusts areas. These are not yet subsumed into what is known as the Child Health System—Module V which will be introduced in the near future. Consequently the information asked for cannot always be produced consistently across both Trusts and it is for this reason that the data included is not complete for the whole Board's area. This problem will be remedied in due course.[7]

Q1. How many children have been referred to the Board for assessment for the purposes of SEN statements in each of the last five years, in total and by type of professional assessment?

  A total number of 1,531 children were referred to the Board for the purposes of SEN statements in the last five years. It is only possible to give a breakdown in each year for Foyle Trust and the Fermanagh sector of Sperrin Lakeland Trust below.

Foyle Trust

All new referrals—not available by type of professional assessment
199419951996 19971998
110188221 17698


Medical Advice for Statementing1
August 1992
to July 1993
August 1993
to July 1994
August 1994
to July 1995
August 1995
to July 1996
August 1996
to July 1997
August 1997
to July 1998
828775 7573274

1 These figures are totals which include all for whom Medical Advice for Statementing (Appendix D at that time) was completed. It therefore includes those who had a formal 14+ re-assessment of SENs, now done as the Transition Plan assessment.
2 74 = 55 initial and 19 Transition Plan.

Type of Professional Assessment

  This information is not routinely collected in the Western Board, but a recent audit of 55 initially referred in 1997-98 in Fermanagh shows the following:

    27 (43 per cent) required speech therapy report.

    19 (30 per cent) required occupational therapy report.

    9 (14 per cent) required physiotherapy report.

    8 (13 per cent) required other reports e.g., child and adolescent psychiatry.

Q2. What has been the average time lapse between referral and actual assessment in each of the last five years, overall and by type of professional assessment?

Foyle Trust—Not available by type of professional assessment.

Average time lapse between referral and actual assessment for medical profession
Time Lapse
Referred During
Year but not
completed in
that year
19946719 911 13
19956429 1461 21172
19967457 19191 51
19977737 2391 29
19983314 1149

Fermanagh Sector of Sperrin Lakeland Trust

  An audit carried out in 1995-96 in Fermanagh showed that 66 per cent were returned within six weeks, the average time was 7.5 weeks and the maximum delay was 10 weeks. Since the appointment of a locum Community Medical Officer (CMO) in 1996 there has been no delay in the return of medical advice.

Q3. What has been the total number of children with statements of special needs to whom the Board has provided support in each of the last five years, in total, and broken down by type of support?

  Foyle—information not available as this information is currently not recorded consistently across the professional groups.

  Omagh—As a general rule, statemented children and children in special schools are seen every year by the CMO and School Nurse for medical examination and for vision and hearing screening.

  Fermanagh—approximately 250 statemented over the five year period with an additional 55-60 new statements each year.

  All in mainstream and special schools seen annually for vision, audio and medical.

  Professions Allied to Medicine (PAM) input to a significant number, but no easily available figures.

Q4. What clinical psychology/psychiatric services does the Board provide for children and young people of school age; what resources are committed to this; to what extent are the services provided separately from services to adults; and for how many such persons have such services been provided in each of the last five years?

Learning Disability Programme

  The Learning Disability Programme caters for both adults and children. The Programme has its own psychology and psychiatric staff. Respite care is provided separately at point of delivery.

  The medical and nursing services are Board-wide with the following funded establishment:
Community Learning Disability Nurses11.59
Associate Specialists1
Clinical Psychologists1
Social Care is provided on a Trust wide basis
Assistant Principal Social Worker1
Senior Social Worker2
Social Workers16

  There are currently 423 children known to the Learning Disability Programme, all of whom may avail of specialist services in a multi-disciplinary setting on an ongoing basis or from time to time.

  Hospital services are provided to children in a totally separate care environment from adults; there are five admission beds, with seven staff, for the assessment and treatment of children.

  In Foyle, there are eight community respite places for children, and 20 host families who provide respite mostly for children.

  Each year approximately 80 children participate in a summer scheme, run over a period of one month, in Stradreagh Hospital.

  In Sperrin Lakeland there are currently five residential respite places for children and adults which are provided at separate times. This will increase to seven during the summer period. There are 33 host families who provide respite for both children and adults separately. The Trust also buys into Mencap's Gateway summer projects and the Share scheme in Lisnaskea on both a residential and day case basis—21 respite weeks are purchased at Share with 40 days purchased through Mencap.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

  Child and adolescent mental health services are completely distinct from adult services. Referrals are taken for children up to the age of 16.

  Within the Board, there are two specialist Mental Health multi-disciplinary teams for children and adolescents. These teams are staffed by:


    One Child Psychiatrist

    One Clinical Psychologist

    Two Specialist Nurses

    Two Social Work Staff

    Sperrin Lakeland

    0.9 Child Psychiatrist

    One Clinical Psychologist

    Two Grade G Nurses

    One Senior Social Worker

  The numbers of individuals who have had contact with the Teams in each of the last five years were:


    1998: 295

    1997: 258

    1996: 248

    1995: 2281

    1994: 208

    Sperrin Lakeland

    1998: 244

    1997: 208

    1996: 159

    1Prior to June 1995 there was one Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Team covering the entire Western Board area; from June 1995 a second team was formed, one based in Foyle and the second in Sperrin Lakeland.

Q5. How many children in residential care in the Board's Area had SEN statements in each of the last five years, and what percentage was this of the total such population?
Children resident in Children's Homes in Foyle Trust Area who have had SEN statements during the years 1994-98
TotalTotal Children
in Homes at
31 March
who have been
199433 65111.8
199533 64712.8
199643 74914.3
199743 74216.7
199862 84617.4
Source: Children's Homes.
Not available for Sperrin Lakeland as children with special needs are not flagged up separately on their computer system.

Q6. What training has been given to social services staff (and social workers in particular) regarding the requirements of the Education Order and the SEN Code of Practice, and what financial and other resources have been devoted to this?

  A number of social workers attended a joint workshop with the Education and Library Board in 1996. However, further training is planned for the following staff during March/April 1999. This is being resourced in-house through the Western Board's Social Services Training Team in co-operation with the WELB and has been initiated via a standing committee representing the WELB and the WHSSB and the Trusts.

    Social Workers—Physical and Sensory Disability

    Social Workers—Learning Disability

    Team Leaders—Family and Childcare.

  Training has been provided to PAMs and CMOs through ongoing meetings with Mr O'Loane, Special Education Officer for the Western health and Social Services Board.

Q7. What has been the Board's actual expenditure related to assessing and meeting special educational needs in each of the last three financial years, and what is your projected spend in 1998-99, 1999-2000 and 2000-01?

  Foyle—50 per cent of Community Paediatricians' time spent assessing and meeting special educational needs, approximately £90,000 per annum.

  Sperrin Lakeland—Information is not available.

  The amount spent on services to children with special educational needs is not currently disaggregated across the various programmes of care and is therefore not available.

4 March 1999

7   Note: None of the letters referred to in Appendix 13, Annex 2 have been reported to the House. Back

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Prepared 19 April 1999