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Improving health services for vulnerable children and young people

27th May 2011

Health services aimed at vulnerable children and young people in the secure estate are set to improve, following changes announced today by Care Services Minister Paul Burstow.

Responsibility for commissioning health services for children and young people in Secure Children’s Homes and Secure Training Centres is to pass to the NHS.

The change is being made to ensure these individuals, who often have complex needs, benefit from high-quality healthcare.

Paul Burstow said:

“Everyone should get access to the right kind of care. Children and young people in secure settings often have far more unmet health and social needs than other children their age. These can include poor communication skills, mental health problems and learning difficulties.

“It is therefore vital that this group benefits from well-commissioned health services, particularly in mental health assessment and treatment. By transferring responsibility to the NHS, we can improve the health and well-being of these children and young people, potentially reduce rates of re-offending.”

Professor Louis Appleby, the National Clinical Director for Health and Criminal Justice, said:

“By ensuring these vulnerable young people are receiving health services delivered through the NHS, we can guarantee a consistently high level of quality across the entire secure estate for young people in England.

“It will also mean that, at times of transition such as when they pass back into community services or into adult services, there is continuity of care and people are not allowed to fall through gaps in the system.”

Today’s announcement means commissioning responsibilities for Secure Children’s Homes and Secure Training Centres will now be in line with those for Young Offender Institutions.

Supporting the change, Juliet Lyon, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, said:

“The long overdue shift in commissioning health services for children in secure settings to the NHS is very welcome. Together with the youth justice liaison and diversion schemes, it will go a long way to ensuring that vulnerable children and young people in trouble gain access to the mental health treatment and social care that they need.”

Joint working between the Department of Health, the Department for Education, the Youth Justice Board and Ministry of Justice identified the potential for significant improvements in the quality of provision of services through a change in commissioning arrangements. Previously, health services for Secure Children’s Homes and Secure Training Centres were commissioned by each institution separately, with funding from the Ministry of Justice.

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