26 Oct 2005

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Nigel Williams today highlighted his concerns with the inadequate services for children with disabilities.

In a hard hitting speech today, Nigel Williams called for Government to make sure disabled young people have the best possible chance to move into the adult world of work and further education, and receive appropriate care and support.

Speaking at the launch of a report from the Social Services Inspectorate on how disabled children are treated in hospital, the Commissioner said that being regarded by service providers as children and then as adults was creating problems for the young people and their families.

"Up to the age of 18 young people receive a lot of care and support and are in the very secure environment of the school system," he said. "Then a whole new set of rules are in place, and many young people find their support has disappeared and there are very limited opportunities.

"Can you imagine trying to explain this to a young person with a learning disability? That is what parents are having to do each and every day in Northern Ireland."

Mr Williams said he has been concerned at the delay in having the problems around 'Transitions' addressed.

"Myself, many stakeholders, and politicians have been lobbying for too many years to have these problems addressed. We are still waiting for a Government report on this issue which was promised over a year ago. Today I am saying that the action to sort this mess out must take place immediately."

The Commissioner, however, welcomed the efforts to address care for disabled children and young people in hospitals.

"The fact that the Inspection Report has been undertaken will, I hope, signal real change. The picture it paints of the treatment of some disabled young people is appalling. I call upon the Department of Health and all health and social services boards and trusts to act on its recommendations right away," he said.