NHS reforms could endanger children, warn professionals

By Oliver Hotham

Health professionals are expressing concerns that the changes to the NHS will make child protection and related health services more difficult.

Speakers at a meeting of NHS Confederation today will argue that disorganised provision of services has caused major failures in the past and that the restructuring could exacerbate the problem.

NHS Confederation deputy policy director Jo Webber said ahead of the meeting that problems of fragmented commissioning and provision of services had been dealt with.

"There is deep unease in the NHS that, in reorganising the system, we are resetting to a model that is potentially riskier and certainly more fragmented," she said.

"Vulnerable children with complex needs will now find the responsibility for their care and their safety spread out between a range of organisations – and on the NHS side, all of them will be completely new."

The speakers are concerned that the NHS will have to be sure to have an "overarching policy" to make sure service providers work together and are not confused about what their role is.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health (DoH) said there will be "robust arrangements in place for safeguarding children in the modern NHS".

They continued: "We have made this a priority in the NHS Operating Framework, and we have worked with the NHS Confederation and many others to make sure the framework is in place to ensure all agencies know their roles and responsibilities."

The Heath and Social Care Act, which became law at the end of March, faced widespread opposition from health workers, with critics arguing that the law involved a privatisation of services.

The NHS Confederation represents all the organisations which provide NHS services, and are recommending the government take strong measures to centralise organisation of child care services.