Campaigns | News

WellChild warns vulnerable children are falling through the cracks.

By Chris Hill · April 9, 2020

parents with child on a hospital bed with ventilator, with their WellChild Nurse

Families caring for vulnerable children with serious and complex medical needs are falling through the cracks, with many not included, or receiving the benefit of being on the Government’s extremely vulnerable list, warns national children’s charity, WellChild.

Families from across the UK have taken to the charity’s online forum, the WellChild Family Tree, to share the impact that this is having on their lives.

One family said: “My daughter didn’t make it onto the Governments extremely vulnerable list. We had a letter from her Respiratory Consultant to ‘shield’ but not from NHS England. I was struggling getting food supplies in as a single mum and can’t risk going out to the shops.”

Whilst many families struggle to get themselves added, especially those who have been unable to register themselves, others are struggling to realise the value of it.

On family said: “I’m not sure the ‘letter’ really makes any difference to anything! We had ours but were previously told by all consultants and teams involved in our daughter’s care to isolate for 12 weeks. The letter hasn’t made any difference to that decision or anything else and it certainly hasn’t meant we can get a shopping slot either.”

There are an estimated 100,000 vulnerable children and young people living across the UK with serious or complex medical conditions, many of them with rare, or undiagnosed conditions and without the symptoms or conditions listed on the Government’s extremely vulnerable list.

Colin Dyer, Chief Executive at WellChild said: “The families that WellChild support are providing round the clock care to some of the most vulnerable children and young people in our society. Many have multiple and highly complex medical needs, often with rare, or undiagnosed conditions.

Increasing numbers of families who don’t quite fit the Government’s very limited ‘extremely vulnerable’ condition list are falling through the cracks. Meanwhile those who are on the list are struggling to access the benefits with many supermarket processes designed towards vulnerable adults, but not children and their parent carers.

 The result is families across the UK in self-isolation, working round the clock to provide critical medical care to their children and unable to source essential food and supplies.

Whilst we recognise that this is an unprecedented and fast moving challenge for everyone, we are calling on the Government, supermarkets and community groups to recognise this vulnerable group of children and families, to ensure they are included on all vulnerable lists, to adapt their processes accordingly and work with charities like WellChild to ensure that these families can access the services, support and supplies that they desperately need.”