HC Deb 13 July 1972 vol 840 cc400-1W
37. Mrs. Monks

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she is ready to make a statement about the future of the School Health Service in the light of proposals for the reorganisation of the National Health Service.

Mrs. Thatcher

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I attach great importance to the continuation in the future of the same close relationship as at present between child health and education; we have wished to be assured before reaching a decision about any transfer of School Health Service responsibilities to a reorganised National Health Service that collaborative arrangements could be devised which would ensure full LEA participation.

A Working Party on Collaboration has been studying co-operation between a reorganised National Health Service and local government, and we are now satisfied that local education authorities would be closely identified with the planning of health authorities for child health generally. We are therefore agreed that the medical and dental inspection and treatment functions of local education authorities should at an appropriate time become the responsibility of the National Health Service. Local education authorities would have continuing responsibility for identifying and meeting special educational needs and the National Health Service would undertake to provide them with the health advice and resources they would require for these purposes and for any other of their functions.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, and I believe that it will be in the interests of child health for there to be an integrated service, To this end we propose that the professional staff concerned should be employed by a reorganised National Health Service. There would be for each area a doctor and dentist on the staff of the area health authority with the function of advising the local education authority in the same way as do the Principal School Medical Officer and the Principal School Dental Officer now.

I understand that consideration is still being given to whether local education authorities may need to retain powers to secure advice and resources in exceptional circumstances. The report from the Working Party on this and other related matters will be circulated to all the appropriate associations for comment.