GP consortia to take over child protection
GP consortia are to take over responsibility for safeguarding children and young people as part of the National Health Service (NHS) reforms, the government is proposing.
The plan is laid out in a Department of Health (DoH) engagement document on the future of children's healthcare services, entitled Achieving Equity and Excellence for Children.
"This will be an important new role for GP consortia and one which will go beyond the experience of most existing GP commissioning groups," the report acknowledges.
The DoH says that safeguarding responsibilities will pass from Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities to GP consortia, under the auspices of the NHS Commissioning Board, "adapted as necessary to reflect the wider roles of those bodies".
The report also outlines a greater role generally for GPs in commissioning healthcare services for children and young people and their families, particularly for urgent care and minor injuries and illnesses.
The proposals come after a review by Professor Sir Ian Kennedy concluded that children and young people face significant barriers to getting the care they need under current systems in place across the National Health Service.
Professor Kennedy suggested that GPs are the obvious point of contact at the centre of child health services, yet his report showed that "caring for children and young people is low on most GPs' priorities". He called for GPs to be given additional paediatric training and for the Quality and Outcomes Framework to incorporate appropriate incentives for practices.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the engagement process will ensure that, "informed by Sir Ian's report and in line with the new focus in the White Paper on patient-centred care, we shape the future of children and young people's services to meet their needs more effectively by improving health outcomes to be amongst the best in the world, through more devolved, locally integrated service provision".
He added: "We welcome views on the action needed locally and nationally to make this a reality."
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By Caroline Price