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Urgent action needed on children’s health

Government sets out plans for shake-up of children’s health care

Louise Prime

Friday, 17 September 2010

GP consortia are best-placed to ensure provision of appropriate, high-quality care for children, young people and their families, the Government report has said in its report Achieving Equity and Excellence for Children.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “The experts on this are not in Whitehall – they’re in the home or at a GP surgery, hospital or clinic.” He has asked professionals and the wider community to contribute their views on how the new system should work, alongside a thorough review of children’s services in the NHS by Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, Getting it right for children and young people – Overcoming cultural barriers in the NHS so as to meet their needs.

Achieving Equity and Excellence for Children contends that because children and young people make up about 40% of the GP’s workload, and on average, children under two years old visit their GP practice six times a year, GPs “are the obvious point of contact at the centre of child health services [and] ideally placed to make the connection between the range of services around children, young people and their families and ensure that those services are sustainable over time.”

GPs would work “in partnership with other health and care professionals, supported by evidence-based NICE quality standards and the commissioning outcomes framework for GP consortia.”
Professor Kennedy recommends in Getting it right for children and young people that GPs should be given additional paediatric training, and that investment should be shifted towards children and young people’s health services.
His other key recommendations include:

•    creation of a single point of responsibility for children’s health and wellbeing, linked in to other public services used by             children, with an identified funding stream for their health and healthcare. This will ensure a more unified and holistic                 approach to their welfare and should be a Local Partnership;
•    a shift of investment by the NHS, especially towards early years and mental health, to improve lives in the long-term, as well       as improve cost effectiveness;
•    a focus on prevention, early intervention and wider well-being instead of the current model of treating illness and injury;
•    responsibility for policy relating to children’s healthcare and wider well-being should be brought together;
•    professionals caring for children should train together, to a common curriculum. This will foster the mutual trust and                 teamwork that are at the core of high quality services.

Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, said: “We must shift investment towards children and young people and the staff who work tirelessly to help them. This has to happen now, and be there from the moment a child is conceived.”

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