Parents are “in total shutdown” over a new pathway aimed at improving special needs diagnoses in North East Lincolnshire, say campaigners.
Special Educational Needs in North East Lincolnshire group Cora Leeson presented a 1,108 signature petition calling for the current pathway to be scrapped to the authority’s full council last night.
She told councillors that decisions were being made on paperwork alone without families being seen, that getting decisions overturned was “ridiculously difficult” and complaints were getting overshot or ignored.
Cora, whose Facebook group has more than 500 members, compared the authority to North Lincolnshire, which diagnosed 56 children between five and 18 with autism in six months, whereas in the last year North East Lincolnshire, she said had made just 19 referrals.
North Lincolnshire made 191 referrals for ADHD last year, while North East Lincolnshire only made 22 in the 12 months since the new pathway started.
Portfolio holder for Children, Education and Young People Councillor Ian Lindley gave his “personal commitment” that children and families would receive the support they need and said the authority had taken strict and appropriate action.
He outlined how the council had begun redesigning the pathway, employed a new “pathway co-ordinator” to improve communication and were setting up new complaints process.
Workshops have taken place, with one more set to be held, he said, before a working group would look to come up with a full solution to go before council.
An amendment by Labour to carry out the changes through a scrutiny committee – which meet more regularly and in public – was voted down, however, Cora said she would have preferred that option to the one voted for.
Speaking following the meeting Cora said parents were “in actual total shut down in terms of attending workshops.
“We’ve refused to participate any more because the main decisions have been taken behind closed doors.
“The diagnostic rates are outrageous and they should hang their heads in shame, of course we won’t attend one workshop to put everything right that would be ridiculous.
“Councillor Lindley promised me a pathway that parents would be happy with, he did that in March and has repeatedly done it in the past.
“I’m afraid councillor Lindley I am not happy with what you proposed. What’s on the table is not a pathway parents are happy with.”
Councillor Lindley said the authority had tried its best to engage, but added: “It’s one of those where we’re not going to please all the people all the time”
He said engagement had been difficult, particularly as it could be a “very emotive subject”.
“It’s something we feel quite passionate about the work we have put in, it’s unfortunate the last pathway didn’t work in the manner in which it was intended but we’re now acting to remedy that.
“We want to put a system in place that’s going to be adequate, going to work and parents will be happy with.
“But it will be difficult to instil confidence given it’s been a bit of a knock back for parents in terms of it hasn’t been what they expected.”
He could not give a time-frame for when final plans would return to the council, but said he wanted it to be as soon as possible.
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