The health reforms are an opportunity to improve the provision of high quality health support for school-age children. Most of the reforms will take effect from April 2013, but shadow arrangements are already taking shape.
Local areas are now putting in place a new framework of health and wellbeing boards so that professionals (and schools if they wish) can work together to identify the local priorities for children and young people. All health services used by children and young people are within the scope of the health and wellbeing board, including:
• speech and language therapy
• children’s community occupational therapy services
• health promotion
• health visitors
• school nurses and sexual health nurses
• drugs and alcohol liaison nurses
• vision and hearing assessment
• health care planning for conditions like asthma, eczema and epilepsy
• immunisations such as the HPV vaccine
The job of the health and wellbeing board is to collect and analyse information about current and future health and social care needs and develop a strategy for commissioning the right balance of services. Schools can influence this process by feeding in what they know about the needs of their pupils. This could include information on pupils with specific impairments and more broadly, sharing their perspective, experience and knowledge of pupil needs to help shape a system that is better able to deliver for their pupils.
Local authority directors of children's services will be statutory members on health and wellbeing boards, and will promote the interests of all children, including those with disabilities and SEN. Schools are not required to become members themselves, but headteachers may be invited or could seek to join.
To get involved, schools should approach their director of children's services, who is responsible for engaging children and young people, professionals and other stakeholders in the work of the board.
More information on the health and wellbeing boards can be found on the Department of Health website.
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Information from the Department of Health on health and wellbeing boards.