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The Government has published the "National Service Framework (NSF) for Children, Young People and Maternity Services". It aims to ensure fair, high quality and integrated health and social care from pregnancy, right through to adulthood. The NSF includes national standards for health and social care services for children and young people.
Full implementation of the standards is intended to take up to ten years and the pace of change and immediate priorities are expected to vary locally. No specific ring-fenced money is attached to the NSF and it has no specific year-by-year targets to measure progress. Nevertheless, the NHS and local authorities will increasingly be assessed on the quality of their services and whether they are making progress towards meeting the standards.
The standards will feed into the new integrated inspection framework for children's services and the NSF delivery strategy - to be published later this year - will be closely aligned to the wider "Change For Children - Every Child Matters" implementation programme.
There are five overarching standards, which will apply to all children, whatever their circumstances.
Health Promotion and Prevention; Supporting Parents; Integrated child and family centred services; Growing up; and Safeguarding children. In addition, there are standards on: Children in Hospital (already published); Children who are ill; Children with mental health problems; Disabled children; Medicines; and Maternity. Services for disabled children and their families are mentioned in all the Standards.
The Disabled Children's Standard says:
"Children and young people who are disabled or who have complex health needs receive co-ordinated, high-quality child and family centred services which are based on assessed needs, which promote social inclusion and, where possible, which enable them and their families to live ordinary lives."
The main themes of this Standard are:
Services promote social inclusion for disabled children and young people, to enable them to participate in childhood, family and community activities.
Disabled children and young people have increased access to hospital and primary health care services, therapy and equipment services and social services. Services are co-ordinated around the needs of the child and family.
Services provide early identification of health conditions, impairments and any social and physical barriers to inclusion, through integrated diagnosis and assessment processes.
There is better early intervention and support to parents of disabled children through the development of multi-agency packages of care, including the use of direct payments and employment of Key Workers.
Palliative care is available for those who need it. A range of flexible, sensitive services is available to support families in the event of the death of a child.