A new National Service 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 sets 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 with mental health
problems to take medication.
A new health promotion programme will 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 example
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 a
child’s welfare, it says.
The NSF states that health professionals should consult 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 with disabilities and complex health needs should be
helped to live ordinary lives, states the NSF. Also, multi-agency
care packages can be improved with use of key workers and direct
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 preventive work is needed, this
must be a universal entitlement and parents must feel confident
about their right to ask for such support.”
– NSF is at: www.dh.gov.uk/PolicyAndGuidance