Responding to the Prime Minister’s speech on a long-term plan for the NHS, Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said:
“Government’s commitment to a long-term plan is a much-deserved 70th birthday present for the NHS. A focus on prevention, which will help to reduce pressures on our health services in the future, is encouraging. Investment in public health will reap long-term rewards, and we look forward to seeing more detail on a public health budget to be announced in the spending review. This will be essential for a healthy and productive future population.
"We’re pleased that the Government will produce a comprehensive workforce strategy as part of this long-term plan. With a current shortage of paediatricians and recruitment numbers falling, a robust and meaningful plan for the future of the paediatric workforce is essential to ensure that we can deliver safe and high quality services for children and young people.
"A move to flexible, integrated, patient-focused care to ensure that patients are seen at the right time and in the right setting is essential for children and young people, many of whom can be better served by services in the community rather than in hospital. This can only be achieved, however, by providing child health training to all health professionals involved with the care of children and young people. We await with interest more details on how these flexible models of care will work in practice.
"We welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to tackling poor mental health and childhood obesity – the two greatest epidemics facing our nation’s young people – but would like to see more clarity on what this long-term plan will be mean for children. Child health outcomes in the UK are among the worst in Western Europe, and without a concerted focus on reversing current worrying trends, we will struggle to make our NHS the envy of many across the world and move the country back to a world leader in improving child health as it was 40 years ago. That’s why children and young people must be front and centre of this long-term plan for the NHS, and we look forward to working closely with Government on the detail to help ensure a healthier future for all”.