HC Deb 27 January 1978 vol 942 cc824-5W
Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the Government's reaction to the Court Report on Child Health Services.

Mr. Ennals

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science and I have accepted the Court Committee's concept of an integrated service; but in the light of consultations we have not felt able to accept that there should be a system of general practitioner paediatricians and other new grades. On the other hand we shall encourage local experiments in organising services on the lines suggested by the Court Committee when the health authority and the practitioner concerned agree to do so. One or two such experiments are under way; I hope there will be others. We believe that general practice should in time play an increasing part in preventive work but that for many years to come there will be a need for other doctors with appropriate training to provide preventive services particularly to schools and in deprived areas.

We shall be asking the appropriate training bodies to consider further the training needs of doctors working with children and certain aspects of health visitor training. We shall also be holding discussions on the establishment of a national training scheme for school nurses. We have accepted in principle the recommendations for the establishment of district handicap teams and for the development of an integrated child and adolescent psychiatric service, provided that this is understood to mean co-ordinated working and not the assimilation of all existing services into a new one. The rate of implementation will, of course, depend on the availability of resources, and we shall be giving advice on this in the planning guidelines we shall be issuing in March.

We are still considering, in the light of comments received, the Court Committee's proposal that there should be a joint committee for children. I hope to announce our conclusions shortly.

In the Eleanor Rathbone Memorial Lecture which I shall be delivering tonight I shall be discussing some of the implications of the Court Report as a whole for the Health Service, including the need for further research and experimentation. I shall be emphasising the effect of social and environmental deprivation on the health of children and calling on health authorities and local authorities to practise positive discrimination by concentrating available resources on deprived areas. I shall be placing the text of my speech in the Library of the House together with more detailed guidance on certain aspects of the Court Committee's recommendations.

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