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Children ‘spending weeks at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge due to lack of social care placements’

Some children are spending “several weeks” at Addenbrooke’s Hospital for safety reasons due to a lack of social care placements.

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is seeing more children being brought to the emergency department as a place of safety, as there is nowhere else for them to stay, a meeting of its board was told last Wednesday (September 13).

The entrance to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell
The entrance to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Picture: Keith Heppell

Lorraine Szeremeta, chief nurse at the trust, said that some children may only spend a few hours at the hospital waiting for a foster carer or carer, but others could spend days waiting and in some cases several weeks.

She said it was a “hugely complex situation” and said meetings were taking place with the Integrated Care Board (ICB) to find a “joined-up approach” across organisations for the safety of the children.

Ms Szeremeta said: “We are not at a point of resolution yet. A lot of work still needs to be done.”

A report presented to the meeting said the hospital had accommodated children as a place of safety for 56 “bed days” in the first quarter of 2023.

The report also said there had been an increase in referrals to the children’s safeguarding team over the last quarter, with 224 referrals – compared with 194 for the previous three months – with the top reasons for referrals being mental health and neglect.

Roland Sinker, the trust chief executive, said a system-wide meeting had been called by the medical director at the ICB to look at the issue and “to agree a system-wide response to identification of pathways for these children”.

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