Children with Special Educational Needs and dementia care issues highlighted in Parliament

MP Derek Thomas has argued that there is an urgent need for more Government funding to enable children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) to get the start in life they deserve.

Most weeks during term time, Mr Thomas visits a school in his West Cornwall constituency and he also meets regularly with group of parents and carers of SEN children when he gets the chance to hear about the challenges they face.

Speaking in a Westminster debate last Wednesday on the issue, Mr Thomas said that the Government makes demands on mainstream schools “to provide special learning programmes; extra help from a teacher or teaching assistant to work in smaller groups for the children concerned; observation both in class and at break time; help with class activities; encouragement to participate in questions and other activities; and help with their communication and physical and personal care”.

“The level of support required cannot be achieved unless we provide that money,” he said, warning that if this support is not in place, there will be a breakdown in the relationship between parents and teachers.

“I believe we are failing children with special educational needs. We have a cohort of people who have their whole life ahead of them, and it is for us to ensure that they have a full life. “If we get SEND provision wrong, they will have a whole lifetime of missed opportunities. If we get it right, they will have life chances and opportunity. It is urgent that we get the money where it is needed, right now.”

Later that day Mr Thomas also spoke in a Commons debate on Health Inequalities to argue that the treatment of people with dementia should be the responsibility of the NHS and not that of people working in social care services.

“It is a Government commitment to provide ​NHS services free at the point of use,” he said. “If someone has a stroke, heart problems, cancer or flu, the NHS will treat them free of charge.

“If someone has dementia, a recognised disease, it can cost tens of thousands of pounds—I learned today that it can cost up to £100,000—to get the care that they need.

“I am suggesting that it would be in the interest of the Government, the Department of Health and Social Care and certainly those who are concerned about social care budgets to make dementia an NHS problem, rather than a problem for social care.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, 50,000 avoidable hospital admissions happen because of inadequate care for those with dementia or for those who care for them and this failing service, says Mr Thomas, is because the issue is not properly dealt with within the NHS family.

To read Derek's speech in full please click here