Long Stay Hospital Admissions


In September 2017, this chapter was updated throughout and should be re-read.

1. Introduction

Walsall Children's Services are required under the Children Act 1989, Sections 85 and 86 to have a protocol covering the arrangements for notifying Local Authorities when a Child's stay in hospital exceeds 90 days.

This will include children with medical conditions and those with mental health conditions who may be in secure hospital. It may also include new borns placed with their Mother in and adult mental health facility.

Children placed out of home for any length of time are potentially vulnerable. Children who are accommodated by health authorities and local education authorities ((i.e. a local authority exercising its education functions) are not considered 'looked after children' as defined by the Children Act 1989. Therefore, these children are not subject to the statutory review process and the statutory minimum visiting schedules that are required by the Children Act 1989 in respect of children who are 'looked after' by the local authority. 

Sections 85 and 86 of the Children Act 1989 were introduced to ensure that children who are accommodated by a health agency, local education authority, care home or independent hospital for a consecutive period of at least three months are brought to the attention of Children's Social Care. Such children are potentially vulnerable by virtue of their being accommodated outside of the family.

The institutions required to comply with this notification policy include:

  • Residential 'special needs' schools either joint or single agency funded both 'in' and 'out' of borough, including maintained and non-maintained boarding schools;
  • Hospitals, including small 'local' hospitals and independent/private hospitals;
  • Psychiatric units including private and voluntary sector units including those that treat young people for dependency on drugs or alcohol.

Upon notification that a child from their area is living in such arrangements, Children's Social Care can assess whether the child's welfare is being adequately safeguarded and promoted and whether any additional services or interventions should be offered to the child and / or their family.

As Section 85 and 86 only apply to those children who are accommodated for a consecutive period of at least three months, the provisions do not apply to children placed on a term to term basis in boarding school where they return home during the school holidays.

2. Requirements of the Accommodating Authority

The accommodating authority is the agency which is providing accommodation to the child.

It is a requirement of the accommodating authority to notify Children's Social Care for a child who would normally be resident within that Local Authority area, if they are providing accommodation for a consecutive period of at least three months or if they have the intention of providing accommodation for such a period.

3. Procedure

All notifications will be made via Walsall MASH should include as a minimum:

  • Child's name;
  • Child's date of birth;
  • Child's address immediately prior to admission or accommodation (or for a new born baby, the address of the child's mother immediately prior to delivery);
  • Date of admission or accommodation;
  • Name, address and contact person of the agency providing accommodation including the Ward (if a hospital admission);
  • Names and contact information for the child's parents or anyone else who has parental responsibility in respect of the child;
  • Name and contact details of the person making the notification.

The notifying authority will also inform the parents/carers that the information has been disclosed to Walsall Children's Services.

Upon receipt of a referral from a Hospital by MASH, the procedures for Assessment will be followed in order that Children's Services can determine whether the child's welfare is adequately safeguarded and promoted while with the Accommodating Authority.

In most cases, these children and their families will transfer to the Children with Disability team following assessment and simply require a child in need plan as this will support the child and family during the period of accommodation and assist in the planning for the child's discharge.

In those situations where the referral relates to an infant placed with its mother in a Mother and Baby unit, the referral will transfer to SFS following an assessment.