Pilot scheme to tackle sleep problems in children and young people begins to have an impact

Doctors are hailing the impact of a sleep support service, commissioned to help tackle persistent sleeping problems among children and young people in Scarborough, parts of Ryedale and Whitby.

The 12-month pilot project was set up by the former NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)* and launched earlier this year.

Families living in Scarborough and some parts of Ryedale (the area formerly covered by NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG) are currently eligible to access the service, along with children and young people living in the Whitby district.

The idea behind the pilot project is to improve sleeping patterns through behavioural therapy, sleep clinics and workshops, rather than medication.

Vicki Dawson, Chief Executive Officer of The Sleep Charity, an award-winning voluntary organisation based in Doncaster which runs the service, said: “We’re seeing increasing numbers of referrals from GPs in Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale.

“We’re talking about children and young people with poor sleep patterns hard-wired over a long period of time and families who are simply at their wit’s end. Invariably, poor sleep will lead to other issues such as behavioural problems and lower attainment at school.

“Quality sleep is essential for children’s growth and development yet we know from research that up to 40 per cent of children and young people will experience a sleep problem at some point in their childhood. These problems are typically persistent and do not resolve themselves without intervention.”

Dr Peter Billingsley, Scarborough GP and NHS North Yorkshire CCG Clinical Lead for vulnerable people, said: “Poor sleep can be debilitating and distressing for families and can lead to a number of physical and mental health issues which require treatment. It’s heartening to hear that The Sleep Charity’s work is already making a difference to families in our area and gives GPs another avenue of treatment.

“I would encourage any parent whose child is currently being prescribed melatonin to speak to their GP about this service, or self-refer directly to The Sleep Charity if they just want access to general help and advice.”

If the pilot scheme is successful, NHS North Yorkshire CCG will consider expanding the service. As capacity is limited, initial priority is being given to children and young people who are being prescribed melatonin and may have previously accessed behavioural support services, but a variety of support options are available through this service for everyone who is referred.

The Sleep Charity will provide appropriate sleep advice and support for parents/carers of disabled and non-disabled children aged 12 months to 18 years of age. Those with a Special Education Need or Disability and/or Education Health Care Plan will have access to the service up to their 25th birthday.

For families in Scarborough, Whitby and parts of Ryedale, the sleep service includes providing online one-to-one sleep clinics and developing sleep plans with parents/carers to help address the identified sleep issue and establish a regular night-time sleep pattern. All families will have follow-up support and where needed, will be referred to primary and secondary care for any medical investigations.

To find out more about the service please visit www.thesleepcharity.org.uk


Families can self-refer or speak to their GP. Referrals can be accepted from the 12 practices formerly associated with NHS Scarborough and Ryedale CCG and those in the Whitby area, for children age 12 months upwards, by telephone to Claire on 07568 052300.