A new National Services Framework (NSF) was launched last week
promising to transform care for children and support families where
children may become at risk from harm or social exclusion.
The children’s NSF has been widely welcomed by
children’s and young people’s organisations, despite
concerns over there being no new ring-fenced funding.
The NSF contains 11 standards which NHS and social care
providers will be judged on; they cover everything from choice in
childbirth to the use of text messages to remind teenagers to take
A new child health promotion programme is to be introduced to
offer advice on healthy and risk-averse lifestyles to children up
to the age of 18.
There is to be more emphasis on early intervention and support,
especially where a child may face social exclusion, for instance
from homelessness, or where parents have drug, alcohol or mental
health problems. Population profiles are to be used to help
identify young people who may be vulnerable or likely to have poor
Service providers must also ensure that staff are suitably
trained and aware what to do if they have concerns for
child’s welfare, it says.
The NSF tells health professionals to consult with children and
their carers over treatment options, to gain informed consent, and
to share information about the risks and benefits of medications.
Parents and school staff are to receive help with children’s
Children with disabilities and complex health needs should be
enabled to live ordinary lives, says the NSF. Also multi-agency
care packages can be improved with use of key workers and direct
Where possible, mothers should be given choices about whether to
give birth at home or in hospital, the document says.
Tom Wylie, chief executive of the National Youth Agency,
welcomed the fact that young people outside of education,
employment and care would be given parity with schoolchildren. But
he added “More explicit details are required on how these
standards will be met on the ground and, more importantly, how they
will be financed and funded.”
Jan Fry from the charity Parentline Plus, said the NSF
didn’t go far enough. “More preventative work is
needed, this must be a universal entitlement and parents must feel
confident about their right to ask for such support.”