The Panel received the Annual Health Report presented by the Designated Nurse for Children in Care, Jo Gamble (for copy of report and presentation see file).
The Panel noted information on local health indicators, the challenges faced during 2021-22 and key priorities for the future. Whilst the number of children looked after had continued to increase and figures for Durham remain above the national average, only 9% of children in care were placed beyond a 20 mile radius of Durham, which was below the national average.
One of the key challenges was the reduction in the number of children being seen by a dentist which was a trend reflected nationally, however the current position for 2022 -23 showed an improving picture with regard to dental checks. Data up to end of quarter three showed that compliance for the completion of health assessments had significantly improved. Other challenges reported during the period included the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, the impact of the national transfer scheme and the lack of specialist mental health provision. Areas for development include improving access to health assessments for those young people placed out of the county and supporting the local authority with recruitment of foster carers.
The Vice Chair referred to barriers with regard to carrying out initial health assessments within the required timescales. Officers responded that there had been challenges with regard to health providers obtaining appropriate consents however this had improved during the first quarter of the current year and when the appropriate paperwork was in place, approximately 80 to 93% of young people were offered an appointment within 15 working days.
Moving forward the quarterly performance reports provided by the Corporate Equality and Strategy Manager will include additional information in relation to Initial Health Assessments, Review Health Assessments and dental updates to ensure members continue to receive timely information.