Inquiry rules that Hampshire families need support

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AN INQUIRY that heard from Hampshire parents has ruled changes need to be made to further support children with cerebral palsy and their families.

Results from a parliamentary inquiry looking into the policy changes needed to help children with the condition were revealed last night. Its main recommendation is for a team to be set up to establish and develop a strategy for children and young people with cerebral palsy.

This would include nationally-agreed protocols around earlier diagnosis and intervention, improved awareness and training for health and education professionals, improved signposting and support for families and greater funding for research into cerebral palsy to improve outcomes. Now the government will work to put these recommendations in place.

The inquiry, which launched in May last year, was led by charity Action Cerebral Palsy, and heard from 300 parents.

Haanagh Smith, from Whiteley, has twin boys who were born 11 weeks premature.

Reuben, now five, suffered brain damage after birth and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

Haanagh gave evidence at the inquiry.

She said: ‘It was interesting to hear other parents’ experiences and realise that on some levels we had been more fortunate, particularly in relation to diagnosis, but in other respects we struggled to sometimes get essential support such physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

‘The contrasts were interesting and highlighted the disparity of parents’ experiences across the country, which supported the need for a national strategy.’

The Rainbow Centre in Fareham, which helps children with the condition, also contributed.

Centre director Lara Bull said: ‘We are incredibly proud to have been a part of this process and believe that the inquiries’ findings are a positive step forward towards necessary change.

‘We would like to thank the parents that contributed. Their recommendations will ensure whatever services parents choose, will be better signposted.’