New ADCS health position paper

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today, Thursday 21 November, publishes a new position paper on children’s health and wellbeing, outlining what a health care system that works for all children looks like.

Children’s health is shaped by a range of factors from social and financial to political and environmental. The paper highlights several barriers to children and young people achieving the best possible health and wellbeing such as growing waiting times for mental health services and children not always being able to access support when and where they need it as well as widening social inequalities and rising poverty, which is damaging the health of millions of children and young people in this country.

Although we welcome the NHS Long Term Plan which helpfully sets out ambitions and spending priorities for the transformation of health services over the next decade, the focus on children is woefully inadequate. Children should be at the heart of the Plan and our health service, yet it’s limited to specific cohorts and certain conditions; a broader view of health is needed from pre-conception to adolescence. Wider children’s policy issues which impact on children’s life chances remain unanswered by the Plan.

The paper makes several recommendations aimed at the next government and NHS England and calls for a national health and wellbeing board approach, supporting joint working across government departments so that consideration of children’s health needs is done in a holistic way. A resetting of the role of health in relation to children and young people and the services they rely on is long overdue. The paper states health partners must take more responsibility for joint funding and co-commissioning of appropriate services for children and young people and must be held to account for the fulfilment of their statutory duties to them as outlined in different Acts of Parliament.

Rachel Dickinson, ADCS President, said: “Children are being poorly served by a health system that does not always consider their health and wellbeing needs in a responsive, needs-led, holistic way. In a country that works for all children, children and young people must be a much bigger priority for the government and NHS England, local health providers and commissioners, and it’s time their needs are given parity with those of older people.

“The government has acknowledged that prevention is better than cure and provided welcome funding for the NHS, yet it has not provided the funding necessary to enable local authorities to invest in early intervention and preventative services to reduce health inequalities. A reduction in local government funding since 2010, rising need, and an ever growing list of new duties in relation to children, which aren’t always fully funded, has meant that we are having to focus the majority of resources on high end, statutory services over services that help children and families earlier and prevent them from reaching crisis point. The next government must do better for children.

“By providing the necessary levers to hold health partners to account where they are not fulfilling their statutory duties as well as properly and sustainably investing in children and the full range of services they rely on the next government would demonstrate a national commitment to the health and wellbeing of children. We would like to see a similar commitment from NHS England too. The benefits extend beyond the individual to society as a whole and it will reduce future demand for the NHS and adult social care too. We all have a role in helping children live happier, healthier lives, if we do nothing, children for generations to come will continue to pay a heavy price.”

The full position paper, ‘A health care system that works for all children’, can be found here.

ENDS

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) Ltd is the professional leadership association for Directors of Children’s Services and their senior management teams in England.


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