NHS: Child Health Needs Are Ignored, Say Experts Standards ; NHS Reports Condemn Lack of Co-Ordinated Care for the Young and Reveal Disparities in Treatment of Severely Injured Children
Jeremy Laurance Health Editor, The Independent (London, England)
TEN TOP children's specialists accuse the Government today of ignoring the health needs of children and increasing the burden of disease in the future by their neglect.
The experts, who include paediatricians, nurses and public health specialists, say the health of children and young people is vital to the future success of society but no one is speaking up for them at government level.
New-born babies, infants, children and adolescents are all at different stages of emotional, intellectual and physical development yet they are lumped together and treated as small adults, neglecting their specific needs. Only one in 10 health authorities has any policy on adolescent physical health.
The group, led by Al Aynsley-Green, professor of paediatrics at Great Ormond Street Hospital and president of the Association of Clinical Professors of Paediatrics, and David Hall, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics, say England is lagging behind Scotland and Wales, where children's services have become a top priority. In Scotland, a minister for children has been appointed.
They say an independent commissioner for children's services is needed in England to oversee a national strategy for children and young people's health. "The health of children determines the health of adults and much adult disease has its origins in childhood," Professor Aynsley-Green said.
Adolescents were a group that was particularly neglected yet that was the age when the problems of obesity, drug taking, smoking and suicide all began. Professor Aynsley-Green said: "There is only one physician specialising in adolescence in the whole of the UK."
The group, writing in the British Medical Journal, pay tribute to the Government's efforts to reduce poverty but criticise the introduction of initiatives without recognising that children and young people have specific needs. …