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Ensuring children have a say in their care

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Children's health services need to be looked at Children's health services need funding

The NSF for children, young people and maternity services; Healthy Lives Brighter Futures; the Kennedy Review: there have been landmark moments in children's health policy over the last 10 years. Each has felt like an epiphany, but in some ways they have moved on more in the breach than in the observance.

Though we are now aware of the problems faced and have an idea how things could work better, there remain long-standing, fundamental issues that undermine the quality of health services for children and young people.

While there are valid concerns about the Health and Social Care Bill, it has potential to introduce changes which could increase disabled children's involvement in their own healthcare and significantly improve these children's lives.

We argued vociferously that ministers should use reform to create a system that works better for disabled children and children with long-term health conditions. However, given that the health White Paper was published in July 2010 we thought the government had failed to listen. In setting up the Children and Young People's Forum, the health secretary has asked the Cinderella of the NHS to the ball.

This 'listening exercise' for children and young people could ensure that children's health needs are central to government thinking during the final phase of development work on Health and Social Care Bill reforms. Health systems can and should work better for children. The health outcomes strategy developed by the forum will be a critical driver for improvement.

The forum is working to a tight timescale at a time when public sector workers are under pressure. In its favour is the expertise and commitment which exists within the health care sector.

Each of us knows of examples where someone, somewhere has implemented something that makes services work for children. We must ensure the forum hears of these and that they highlight factors which will finally bring about a step change in health services for children.

Amanda Allard, principal officer, Council for Disabled Children

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