Department of Health and Social Care
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Vision for a 21st century children's health service

Vision for a 21st century children's health service

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service. 12 February 2009


The Government today published its long term vision of a 21st Century children's health service aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of all children, including £340 million to support children with disabilities and their families.

Together with funding previously announced this brings the total investment in services for disabled children over the next three years to a record £770 million.

The joint strategy Healthy lives, brighter future: the strategy for children and young people's health - published by Children's Secretary Ed Balls and Health Secretary Alan Johnson - sets out for the first time what children and their families can expect from child health services in their areas from birth through to the age of 19.

Alongside this additional money for children with disabilities and their families, parents will also see new packages of support for all children and young people, including:

* Stronger and better joined up support during the crucial early years of life including more health visitors;
* A strengthened role for Sure Start Children's Centres with, for the first time, each Children's Centre having access to a named health visitor;
* Expansion of the Family Nurse Partnerships programme to support first time mothers from 30 to 70 sites by 2011, with a view to rolling it out across England over the next decade;
* The development and testing of a new antenatal programme and preparation for parenthood package for mothers and fathers; and
* Free School Meal pilots looking at the health and educational benefits of universal access.

Today's £340 million funding will enable local areas to work together to support children with disabilities and their families and invest in palliative care and end of life services, short breaks, community equipment and wheelchair services through Community Children's Nursing services.

Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for Health said:

"The Child Health Strategy will help to ensure that healthcare and children's services work together to help every child to have a healthy and happy start to life.

"This funding of £340 million will help to improve the experience of disabled children and their families by providing them with high quality services whilst the expansion of the Family Nurse Partnership programme will help us reach the most disadvantaged families.

"Our aim is to provide mothers and fathers with the support that they need to give their children a healthy start in life and to help young people to make healthy choices. Investing in children's health from the early years through childhood and adolescence will benefit children, families, society and the NHS."

Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families said:

"We know good health is vital if children and young people are to enjoy their childhood and achieve their full potential. We want to back all parents as they bring up their children, and ensure that every child or young person leads as healthy a possible life.

"Building on 2909 Sure Start Children's Centres, this Child Health Strategy will ensure that parents will know what help and support they can expect to receive for their children, from early years, through schools and right through their teenage years.

"We want to make England the best place in the world for our children and young people to grow up. Our flagship Children's Plan set out how, building on over ten years of social reform, we are working even harder to give every child a good and healthy start in life.

"With schools, GP practices, hospitals, Sure Start Children's Centres, the voluntary sector and government all playing their part in helping to establish good habits in childhood, this will provide the basis for lifelong health, happiness and wellbeing for every child in the country."

Dr Simon Lenton, Vice President, Health Services, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said:
"The great thing about the strategy is that it comes with a significant amount of new money targeted around an area of genuine need. We would like to see some of this being spent on children with long-term conditions and complex needs, such as cerebral palsy.

"We will be delighted to play our part in making this strategy a reality. Paediatricians in the UK are at the forefront of working with children and young people with disabilities. We have always advocated working across boundaries for the good of children and we welcome the emphasis on a joined up approach."

Paul Ennals, Chief Executive of the National Children's Bureau, said: "Improving child health calls for real partnership - between Government Departments, between local health services and local authorities, and between local service providers and the children and families they are serving. This strategy takes forward partnership at all those levels, and NCB supports it."

Barbara Gelb, Chief Executive of Children's Hospices UK, said: "The new funding will provide a major boost to the efforts of children's hospice services to work with Primary Care Trusts to ensure that local children and families get the palliative care and end-of-life support they want in the location they choose."

Notes to Editors

1. The Child Health Strategy Healthy lives, brighter future: the strategy for children and young people's health can be found at

2. Today's £340 million funding is in addition to £340 million announced by the DCSF in May 2007 and a £90 million one off capital payment to improve facilities for short breaks announced in December 2007, bringing the total to £770 million. Over the three years 2009 - 11 this money will enable local areas to work together and improve the lives of disabled children and their families.

3. The first meeting of the National Advisory Council which was set up to act as a Champion for children's mental health and psychological wellbeing issues, took place on Wednesday 11th February.

4. The Family Nurse Partnership Programme is an evidence-based home-visiting programme conducted by specially trained nurses and targeting some of the most vulnerable teenage mothers and their families. It was first developed in the USA where the programme was proven to have lasting health and wider impacts, such as reduction in children's injuries.

5. For further media enquiries please contact the Department of Health press office on 020 7210 5221 or the Department for Children, Schools and Families press office on 020 7925 6789.

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