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Flaws in Children's services

31st August 2006

21072006_childs_eyes1.jpgThe Healthcare Commission has published a review showing that many NHS trusts have significant flaws in the service they provide for children.

The review looked at 157 hospitals across England, assessing progress on a number of elements from the hospital standard of the National Service Framework for Children and Young People, launched in 2003.  This review was in response to concerns about the treatment of children and young people in hospital raised over a number of years.

The Commission looked at areas where trusts should have already made improvements, including the treatment of children in child specific and child friendly environments, the provision of sufficient number of staff trained in the care of children and the organisation of services to ensure staff are exposed to sufficient numbers of child cases to maintain their skills.

Twenty five per cent of trusts assessed received a rating of “excellent� or “good�. District hospitals, as well as specialist children’s trusts, are among the trusts scoring ‘excellent’.

The majority (70%) of trusts reviewed are rated as fair and the Commission says a number of improvements are necessary to provide better child friendly services with sufficient cover by appropriately trained staff.

Five per cent of trusts had a weak rating, with a significant number of key elements from the NSF that these trusts are not yet meeting.

The Commission found that inpatient services are providing the best child focused care, with 71% trusts scoring good or excellent. Inpatient services were most likely to have appropriate staff cover and training, also children are more likely to be treated in child only wards.

However, the Commission says the number of trusts scoring ‘weak’ in emergency care and day care settings is of concern, with 28% of trusts rated as weak in each case.

In many trusts, children do not access a child-specific A&E, but one open to all ages; this raises problems in ensuring children have access to child-friendly environments, and ensuring there is sufficient cover for serious paediatric emergencies and by staff such as children's nurses.

Outpatient services had the greatest room for improvement, with particular problems in providing sufficient staff cover with the right expertise such as children’s nurses. 

The results for training among surgical and anaesthetist staff working on child emergencies and elective surgery were also worrying, said the Commission. No trust scored good or excellent in either category.

The Commission’s Chief Executive, Anna Walker, said that some findings were encouraging, adding “However, the problem areas seem to be accident and emergency, and outpatient services. More skills in dealing with children are needed here."

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Article Information

Title: Flaws in Children's services
Author: Sue Knights
Article Id: 723
Date Added: 31st Aug 2006


Care Quality Commission

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