The Department of Health today published its long-anticipated white paper on community health and care services, taking forward proposals for health MoTs for children and confirming a key role for children’s centres in the delivery of community health services.
The DH will work with the Department for Education and Skills to see how best to provide the “life checks” for children at key stages, including during the first year of a child’s life, and at the transition from primary to secondary education. For the youngest children, checks will be part of the child health promotion programme and linked to routine developmental assessments.
Personal health MoTs for 12- to 13-year-olds were first mooted in the youth green paper last July. The green paper said the checks would offer young people “the opportunity to explore their physical and emotional well-being with specialist staff who could provide support – for example with eating more healthily – or refer them on to further help”. The government has yet to publish its formal response to the green paper consultation.
Prevention is a key theme throughout the new white paper, and there is a focus on the delivery of health services increasingly taking place in community buildings such as children’s centres and schools. The government argues that benefits will include improved coverage of immunisation programmes for children in deprived areas, and greater use of sexual health services by teenagers.
The paper also puts an emphasis on the role of carers, and pledges universal short-term home-based respite care. Responding to this proposal and the government’s commitment to a funding review to enable delivery of the white paper’s vision, chief executive of learning difficulties charity Mencap Jo Williams said: “Currently there are long waiting lists for vital children’s services. The increased money for emergency respite care will help to relieve some of this need.”