Posted: Sat 6th Apr 2024

A view from Mark Isherwood – Welsh Conservative North Wales Member of the Senedd

Wrexham.com for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Apr 6th, 2024

Wrexham.com has invited the four North Wales Members of the Senedd to write a monthly column with updates on their work. You can find their updates – along with contributions from the Wrexham and Clwyd South MPs and MSs – here. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌

In his monthly column for Wrexham.com, Welsh Conservative MS Mark Isherwood writes

My roles as Chair of both the Cross-Party Group on Disability and the Cross-Party Autism Group in the Senedd/Welsh Parliament include promoting the rights and interests of disabled people and of Autistic people, inside and outside the Senedd.

March was the UK’s Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, when organisations across the UK come together to raise awareness of Cerebral Palsy, the most common disability in children worldwide.

To mark the occasion, I made a Statement in the Senedd on the condition and called for support for Cerebral Palsy Cymru’s Early Intervention Baby Programme.

Carebral Palsy affects posture and movement as a result of brain damage. It can also affect sensation, perception, cognition, communication, and eating and drinking. It makes activities that most of us take for granted, such as walking, talking, dressing and fine motor skills, difficult to do.

Speaking in the Senedd Chamber, I highlighted that over 6,000 people live with Cerebral Palsy in Wales and a baby is born every five days in Wales who will have Cerebral Palsy.

Having attended Cerebral Palsy Cymru’s Senedd event prior to making my Statement in the Chamber, I stressed that they are a national centre of excellence providing therapy to children in Wales who have Cerebral Palsy, and that their specialist team of therapists work together to offer transdisciplinary skills so that each child benefits from their combined expertise, as well as offering a family support service.

At the event, we heard from some of the families they help and how Cerebral Palsy Cymru have made a positive impact on their lives. However, we also heard that the Charity currently receives 0 per cent support from the Welsh Government or NHS Wales to fund their Early Intervention Baby Programme, which is currently 100 per cent funded from fundraising and retail activities.

I emphasised that this is not sustainable in the face of rising costs and demand for their services. As they say, ‘We feel it is only fair that the Welsh Government contributes to a vital service, directly or via its NHS Wales funding, without which NHS Wales and Social Services Departments would incur significantly more cost and there would be greater health inequality for disabled people in Wales’.

The Welsh Government really needs to support this cost-saving early intervention programme for babies in Wales who are at risk of, or who have, cerebral palsy.

Meanwhile, with a Research Report on ‘The prevalence and impact of allegations of Fabricated or Induced Illness’, or FII, indicating that wrongful allegations of FII are at least as prevalent in Wales as they are in England and Scotland, I raised the matter with the Minister for Health and Social Services.

FII occurs when parents are accused of creating or exaggerating their child’s difficulties – an extreme form of parent carer blame.

The report highlights the devastating impact that an FII allegation can have on the whole family, including the children who are alleged to be in need of protection, and that this has been a particular concern for Autistic parents and Autistic children, with Mothers of Autistic children 100 times more likely to be investigated for FII by Children’s Services.

I asked the Minister how the Welsh Government will ensure that this Report’s messages are understood by Local Authority Children’s Services, Schools and NHS practitioners across Wales, when I continue to be contacted by Autistic Mothers of neurodiverse children in North-East Wales who have been, and continue to be, subjected to FII allegations and threatened with safeguarding proceedings.

The Minister said she would ask her officials to have a look at the Report to “see if there is anything in there we can follow up”.

Being accused of inducing, embellishing, or fabricating the illness or condition they are reporting, is a parent’s worst nightmare, and has resulted in some parents having their children taken from them. Everything must be done to ensure that parents can report legitimate concerns about their children without fear of being wrongly accused and investigated by public bodies.



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