Achieving health for children in public care

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7389.560 (Published 15 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:560

New Department of Health guidance emphasises a rounded approach

  1. Catherine M Hill, senior lecturer in community child health (cmh2@soton.ac.uk),
  2. Mary Mather, consultant paediatrician (marymather@doctors.org.uk)
  1. University of Southampton, Mailpoint 803, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD,
  2. Market Street Health Centre, 16/20 Market Street, Woolwich, London SE18 6QR

    Every year in England and Wales over 80 000 children experience public care because their parents are unable to look after them, enough to fill the new stadium at Wembley on cup final day. Unlike football crowds their voices remain largely silent. A primary care trust serving a population of 200 000 will be responsible for the health of about 300 looked after children, equivalent to a medium sized primary school.1 The recent guidance from the Department of Health, Promoting the health of looked after children, for the first time explicitly charges chief executives of primary care trusts with improving the health of these most disadvantaged children.2

    Efforts to address the poor health of looked after children are not new. Since 1948 children entering care have been subject to regular medical surveillance. Despite 50 years of medical checks the House of Commons Select Committee published a damning report in 1998, highlighting the appalling health outcomes for these children and the failings of a system that should have been protective.3 …

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