My Lords, this is the most complex of the national service frameworks to date, but good progress is being made. The first part of the National Service Framework for Children—Standards for Hospital Services—was published in April 2003. Work is now in hand to implement that standard. The Government will publish the full National Service Framework for Children before the end of the year.
My Lords, I agree with my noble friend about the importance of the links between the National Service Framework for Children and the White Paper on public health that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State launched in March as a major consultation exercise. The responses to that consultation exercise will feed into the White Paper and will inform the national service framework, a key part of which is to promote children's health and well-being.
My Lords, the Mental Health Foundation recently highlighted the fact that some 50,000 children are on antidepressants and that the rates of suicide and self-harm among children have increased dramatically in the past 20 years. What focus will there be in the NSF on mental health services for children?
My Lords, there are likely to be eight strands in the National Service Framework for Children, one of which will be child and adolescent mental health services. Perhaps I may remind the noble Lord that the Government are committed to improving child and adolescent mental health services, which will be backed up by significant additional funding of about £300 million in the three years to 2005–06, payable to local authorities and primary care trusts.
My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is important for the National Service Framework for Children to get a good start? Could the Minister tell us what progress has been made in tackling health inequalities, particularly as regards reducing infant mortality and expectancy of life at time of birth?
My Lords, the noble Lord is right. The Government have made a huge investment in improving neonatal care and £72 million is being invested in neonatal intensive care facilities. Perhaps I may remind the House and the noble Lord that it was this Government who started the Sure Start programme. There are now more than 500 of those programmes doing a great deal to help children and young people in very disadvantaged areas, which are covered by about 1,700 child centres.
My Lords, I am happy to reassure the noble Baroness that disabled children is one of the eight strands to be covered in the National Service Framework for Children.
My Lords, will the needs of children in special circumstances, such as refugees, looked-after children and children in secure provision, whose health outcomes are often the worst, be looked after in the national service framework?
My Lords, can the Minister tell us if the National Service Framework for Children will also have an impact on schools? Is that another strand? As the Government are seeking to join up services and locate many health and social care services in schools, surely it is crucial that the National Service Framework for Children should bite on education providers.
My Lords, the Government have done a great deal to join together services that affect children and have appointed a Minister for Children. If the noble Baroness looks at Every Child Matters: Next Steps, she will see the way in which we are weaving together the strands of services for children. The National Service Framework for Children will do exactly that. There will be arrangements for integrated inspection of children's services.
My Lords, the National Service Framework for Children is a 10-year strategy for delivering better health and social care for children. If the noble Lord looks at the other national service frameworks, he will see that there has been a strong emphasis on delivery. That is shown in the Government's record on improving death rates in relation to cancer and the reduction in coronary heart disease, both of which have a national service framework.
My Lords, the noble Baroness will have to wait for the detail in the national service framework, but the Government are integrating these different strands of work, and they will be covered in the national service framework when it is published.
My Lords, the Minister will be aware that one in 10 young people are infected with chlamydia, and that in the past year alone there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of people infected with HIV, which has prompted the Health Select Committee in another place to speak of a crisis in sexual health. Does he think that there should not only be a section in the children's NSF devoted to young people's sexual health, but that there is also a strong case for a separate national service framework on sexually transmitted diseases?
My Lords, the National Service Framework for Children will be comprehensive in what it proposes in relation to improving integrated services for children. It will pull together information and expertise from a wide range of fields. In relation to the specific question asked by the noble Earl, a national strategy for sexual health and HIV was published by the Government in 2001, and large sums of extra money have been put in to modernise services and to tackle chlamydia, as well as a £4 million campaign on sex lottery, which is pitched at younger people.