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Review: children's health care 'could be better'

By Victoria Macdonald

Updated on 16 September 2010

An independent report into health services for children following the death of Peter Connolly - Baby P - is highly critical of the standards of care they receive, describing them as "often mediocre or worse."

Baby Peter Connolly, who died in August 2007. An independent report said the care should have been better

The independent report by Sir Ian Kennedy said the care could and should be better.

The 106 page report was ordered by the last government and contains 39 recommendations. It says the care for children does not measure up internationally, children have low priority in the health service and although childhood mortality rates have improved, we are the lowest of 25 countries for sense of well-being.

Sir Ian also said GPs have too little training in paediatrics and that accident and emergency units have become the default option. About 26 per cent of those attending accident and emergency departments are children.
The review - Getting it right for children and young people : Overcoming cultural barriers in the NHS - was ordered after it was found that injuries to Baby Peter had been missed both by the GP and a hospital doctor in north London.

The report said: "Although there are some excellent services from which others might learn a large number are in need of significant improvement."

Sir Ian said the system was not integrated. One parent had told him that they never have an appointment with more than one consultant on the same day for their profoundly disabled child. This means huge expenses in travelling costs and a great deal of time wasted.

Nor, he said, was the system co-ordinated: "One anonymous civil servant told me that you would think the then Department of Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Health did not work for the same Government."

Sir Ian said that any cultural change, therefore, had to start at the top, in Whitehall.

There is a call for GPs to be given more training and for them to move back into schools and community centres so they can be "not the gatekeeper but the navigator" of the system.

Health minister Anne Milton MP told Channel 4 News that “What I want to see is real change on the ground. We’ve got a new government, incredible enthusiasm, and a real drive from ministers to work across the departments to make sure this becomes a reality”.

17-month-old Peter died in August 2007 after suffering horrific abuse, despite being seen by health and social services professionals 60 times in the eight month period before he died.

His mother, her partner and a lodger were all jailed for causing or allowing his death.

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