National Service Framework for Children

– in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 29th March 2004.

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Photo of Baroness Massey of Darwen Baroness Massey of Darwen Labour 2:30 pm, 29th March 2004

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress is being made on the National Service Framework for Children.

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

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.

On 4 March, we published Every Child Matters: Next Steps, which sets out the first phase for implementing the Government's Green Paper on children with an important role for the national service framework in raising standards of care.

Photo of Baroness Massey of Darwen Baroness Massey of Darwen Labour

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that very encouraging reply. How will the National Service Framework for Children impact on the White Paper on public health? Does he agree that issues of public health for children are very important, for example, in matters of diet, nutrition and obesity?

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

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.

Photo of Lord Clement-Jones Lord Clement-Jones Shadow Minister, Spokesperson On Older People

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?

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

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.

Photo of Lord Chan Lord Chan Crossbench

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?

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

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.

Photo of Baroness Gardner of Parkes Baroness Gardner of Parkes Conservative

My Lords, can the Minister assure us that children with disabilities, including physical disabilities—the Minister referred to mental health problems earlier—will be fully considered in the framework?

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

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.

Photo of Baroness David Baroness David Labour

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?

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

My Lords, I have a feeling that we shall work through the whole of the eight strands in the National Service Framework for Children. I am happy to reassure my noble friend that children in special circumstances of the kinds that she mentioned will be covered in the NSF.

Photo of Baroness Howe of Idlicote Baroness Howe of Idlicote Crossbench

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.

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

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.

Photo of Lord Elton Lord Elton Conservative

My Lords, the NSF will be a statement of intentions. What will be the mechanism for seeing that the intentions are completed?

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

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.

Photo of Baroness Howarth of Breckland Baroness Howarth of Breckland Crossbench

My Lords, the Minister mentioned the links with Every Child Matters: Next Steps. How are these links made with the five outcomes for children and young people?

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

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.

Photo of Lord Harrison Lord Harrison Labour

My Lords, given the importance of joined-up questions, and joined-up government, what will the impact of the NSF be on the Children Bill?

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

My Lords, the Government's position on the Children Bill will be explained fully by my noble friend at Second Reading tomorrow. The national service framework will be totally integrated and co-ordinated with the Children Bill when it is published.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe Conservative

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?

Photo of Lord Warner Lord Warner Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

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.