Intended for healthcare professionals


Are health services in England failing our children?

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 09 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:268
  1. Alan Craft, professor of child health
  1. Department of Child Health, Sir James Spence Institute, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP
  1. a.w.craft{at}

    Poor outcomes for major childhood diseases reflect the low status of children's NHS services

    In 2004, the UK government launched the national service framework for children in England.1 It contained a comprehensive set of standards for children's health services and a 10 year timescale for implementation. The framework was welcomed as the first real blueprint for children's health since the Court Report2 almost 30 years before. But with no extra money and no specific targets for health professionals or managers, progress has been slow. Children have been given a low priority, and managers are distracted by high profile government targets for emergency waiting times and surgical waiting lists. There is now real concern and increasing evidence that the National Health Service (NHS) is failing children.

    The Healthcare Commission recently produced “Improving services for children in hospital,”3 a review of progress on national service framework standards in England. In 2006, only 4% of trusts were rated excellent and 21% were rated good. While the commission reported considerable progress in improving the hospital environment for children, their review …

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