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Transitional care of young disabled people
  1. A SARMAH, Consultant Community Paediatrician
  1. East Kent Community NHS Trust
  2. Newington, Ramsgate
  3. Kent CT11 0QU, UK

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    Editor,—Fiorentino et alhave tried to quantify the widely acknowledged view that the care of young disabled adolescents falters during their transition to adulthood.1 They have arrived rightly at conclusions which, when implemented, should improve transitional care of chronically disabled young people; this level of care has been delayed in its development by a lack of enthusiasm and initiative by health professionals and their organisational bodies. Furthermore, a significant number of young people with chronic health problems do not have a “statement of special educational needs”.

    Last year, I presented findings of a survey of transitional care of chronically ill young people in the South Thames region at a national meeting of community paediatricians.2 This survey was questionnaire based, and 161 practising paediatricians and consultant child psychiatrists from the South Thames region took part. The questions dealt with the current level of satisfaction with transitional care and planned changes in this area as perceived by the participants. The data showed that while only 32% were either frequently or always satisfied with the current transitional care for disabled adolescents, only 50% were working towards changing the situation. The lack of equivalent adult services were cited frequently as an unmet need.

    Recently, the UK Royal College of Physicians3 and the American Academy of Pediatrics4 issued guidance in the organisation of transitional care. We should therefore take this opportunity to persuade the Department of Health and primary care groups to provide organised transitional care for disabled young people. During the past 20 years, the survival of young chronically ill people has improved greatly due to the dedication of, and hard work by, carers as well as health professionals. It would be a disservice to these young people and their carers if we fail to improve service provision during their transition to adulthood.

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