Health advice for EHCPs: 4 challenges local areas face
We unpick the top four challenges local areas face when collecting health advice information from recognised health professionals
Health advice for EHC plans: 4 challenges for Local Areas
Quality health advice is an integral part of the Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) process. Health professional advice is used to create tailored and personalised outcomes for children and young people. Well-written health advice helps children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) improve their outcomes not just in a school setting but for life.
Schools, local authorities and areas are overwhelmed with the number of EHCP initial request applications, increasing by 23% between 2020 and 2022. The EHCP requests, and if undertaken, the application process is time-consuming, data-collection heavy and involves many professionals' input to create.
The EHCP process can be clunky, and with many voices involved, inconsistency is a common issue local areas face when creating the legal document. Steps have been made with the proposed changes to the Health and Care Bill, moving towards collaborative and integrated health and care processes. The merging of the Clinical Commisioning Group (CCGs) into Integrated Care Systems (ICS) means a larger local area will be in the care of the ICS. Making it possible to have fewer voices and increase consistency nationally across the SEND process and services.
The Invision360 Quality Health Advice (QHA) audit tool has been widely recognised and used to make the EHCP auditing process more efficient. This build of this tool has been comissioned by NHS England in recognition of the need for quality assurance and guidance for the health advice sections.
In this article, we unpick the top four challenges local areas face when collecting health advice information from recognised health professionals and share how to solve these issues.
What are the top challenges Local Areas face with health advice?
Section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 recognises that the health commissioning bodies are responsible for highlighting the professional who will give health advice for EHCPs. They are also tasked with collecting this information within the 6-week timescale for the local areas. Most commonly, the CCGs (now ICSs) have this role, but for tertiary centres, it can be tasked to the NHS.
Local areas have common challenges nationwide, with some challenges stemming from the nature of the data-collection and others from the SEND EHCP process itself. We share the top four challenges local areas face when collecting health advice.
1. Quality and detail variation of health advice
Health advice can vary in levels of detail, quality, relatability and readability. With inconsistencies in vital detail, such as the number of Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) sessions recommended for a young person. Local areas are faced with vast differences in quality health advice given even within the same services and local authorities and areas.
SEND team auditors (or professionals tasked with auditing EHCP information) have a huge amount of documentation to process. Subjectivity obviously becomes a key concern when auditing within or across local area services.. However, there are some universal requirements and understanding of what ‘good quality’ should look like.Poor quality health advice recommendations are just that, poor.
When auditing and moderating EHCP health advice, the professionals responsible should have the confidence to moderate across services they are unfamiliar with, moderating the quality of the advice provided objectively. The Invision360 quality health advice auditing tool takes the leg work out of auditing and moderating health advice themes, allowing for cross-team moderation to be completed by non-specialists.
3. Staying within the 6 week timeframe for health advice
Collecting information from the identified health professionals within the tight 6-week timeframe is challenging, then throw in the need for quality and detail. Local area teams can find the 6-week deadline difficult to achieve. The Invision360 QHA tool helps health services monitor their return timeframes and allows the local areas to benchmark across services within their boundaries but also across local area boundaries.
Some services within the local areas will surpass others when analysing the quality of advice given for EHCP outcomes, and the consistency of professional advice. Creating uniformed success criteria across each local area service is achievable with the Invision360 QHA tool, with internal and national services monitored, evaluated and benchmarked to highlight areas of success for good practice and Areas that can be targeted as part of the local area SEND improvement strategy.
How does the Invision 360 QHA tool help Local Areas with health advice?
- Standardised auditing criteria developed by a team of DCOs - In built moderation feature to ensure auditing is consistent across professionals and services - Touch of the button reporting allowing quick and detailed analysis - Benchmarking of health advice quality, both across local area across services and also regionally/nationally - Helpful prompts and guidance taking the auditor through a step-by-step process - Intuitative technlogy makes objective decisions about the quality of health advice given - Commissioned by the NHS and built by a team of DCOs
Our transformative technology improves efficiency and secures positive outcomes, through a focus on quality and facilitating new thinking for organisations that are committed to improving their services.