HC Deb 15 September 2004 vol 424 cc150-1WS
The Secretary of State for Health (Dr. John Reid)

In February 2001, we announced that the Department would be developing a new national service framework (NSF) to set in place new standards for children's services. I am pleased to announce that the children's NSF is today being published. Copies have been placed in the Library.

This NSF is the most complex to date, covering maternity services and the full range of issues for children and young people across health and social care, as well as the interface with education. It has been developed in active consultation with young people and the direct participation of over 250 experts and practitioners from the field. We also sought the views of key stakeholders through a major consultation exercise.

The children's NSF is an evidence-based, 10-year strategy that advocates a cultural shift in the provision of care, with services being designed and delivered around the needs of children and their families. The NSF recognises that children's needs are different and that it is important they have personalised services that take account of their individual views and beliefs, and enable them to make informed choices about their care. Setting standards for maternity care will also enable women to make real choices about the birth of their babies. It highlights the need for high-quality services that offer choice and are prompt, convenient and responsive and that look at the whole child, rather than as a presenting illness or problem.

The broad remit of the NSF is covered in 11 standards, which are: promoting health and well-being, identifying needs and intervening early; supporting parents or carers; child, young person and family centred services; growing up; safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people; children and young people who are ill; children in hospital; disabled children and young people and those with complex health needs; mental and psychological well-being of children and young people; medicines; maternity.

The children's NSF has been developed in line with the Government's wider public sector reform, to devolve power and responsibility to local agencies. Consequently, although this NSF sets out the levels of service quality that we expect services to attain by 2014, it is to be left to local discretion to determine how change should be effected.

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