Health leaders have raised concerns about how education appears to
be more of a priority than health in the children’s green paper,
published last month.
Ian Kennedy, shadow chairperson of the new Commission for
Healthcare Audit and Inspection (Chai), speaking at his Great
Ormond Street Hospital lecture last week, warned that those
concerned with children’s health would see in the green paper “a
fragmentation of their plans and ambitions”.
Kennedy said that the “danger” arising from the green paper and the
move of children’s social services to the Department for Education
and Skills was that the health care of children would be isolated
from other activities relating to their welfare.
He added that the proposed new system of integrated inspection,
under which some but not all areas of children’s health care would
fall, would leave Chai’s ability to carry out its responsibilities
to children “in some doubt”. Health care was “simply too complex”
to be assessed by periodic visits, around which the education and
social services model of inspection is centred, he said.
A previous director of Hillingdon social services department who
now heads the area’s primary care trust, has also raised doubts
over the priority given to education in the green paper and the
placing of children’s trusts within councils.
Graeme Betts told a conference organised by the Harrogate
management centre for health and social care that child protection
could “get lost” in a local government agenda dominated by
education and called for children’s trusts to be independent to
prevent local authorities bringing their old ways of doing things
into the new model.
He added that the green paper had failed to grasp the importance of
health. “Education runs all through the document, but I can’t help
but think that unless you start with the health of children,
education does not matter,” he said.
Betts admitted that health professionals were still failing to
place sufficient emphasis on child protection, mostly because of
tensions around NHS targets. While PCTs were expected to prioritise
child protection, not one of the indicators used to measure
performance to determine star ratings focused on this area, he