Facing the Future - together for child health

These standards apply across the unscheduled care pathway to improve healthcare and outcomes for children. They focus on the acutely mild to moderately unwell child.


These standards aim to ensure there is always high-quality diagnosis (safe, effective and caring) early in the pathway, providing care closer to home where appropriate (right care, right time and right place).

The standards will ensure specialist child health expertise and support are available directly into general practice services, where the needs of the child and their family are known. The standards will build good connectivity between hospital and community settings; primary and secondary care; and paediatrics and general practice.


  • GPs assessing or treating children with unscheduled care needs have access to immediate telephone advice from a consultant paediatrician.
  • Each acute general children’s service provides a consultant paediatrician-led rapid access service so that any child referred for this service can be seen within 24 hours of the referral being made.
  • There is a link consultant paediatrician for each local GP practice or group of GP practices.
  • Each acute general children’s service provides, as a minimum, six-monthly education and knowledge exchange sessions with GPs and other healthcare professionals who work with children with unscheduled care needs.
  • Each acute general children’s service is supported by a community children’s nursing service which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for advice and support, with visits as required depending on the needs of the children using the service.
  • There is a link community children’s nurse for each local GP practice or group of GP practices.
  • When a child presents with unscheduled care needs the discharge summary is sent electronically to their GP and other relevant healthcare professionals within 24 hours and the information is given to the child and their parents and carers.
  • Children presenting with unscheduled care needs and their parents and carers are provided, at the time of their discharge, with both verbal and written safety netting information, in a form that is accessible and that they understand.
  • Healthcare professionals assessing or treating children with unscheduled care needs in any setting have access to the child’s shared electronic healthcare record.
  • Acute general children’s services work together with local primary care and community services to develop care pathways for common acute conditions.
  • There are documented, regular meetings attended by senior healthcare professionals from hospital, community and primary care services and representatives of children and their parents and carers to monitor, review and improve the effectiveness of local unscheduled care services.

Implementing the standards

The implementation plan provides tools and resources to support clinicians, service planners and commissioners to implement the standards. These aim to equip you with the necessary practice examples and workforce recommendations that will help local services meet the standards. The Colleges jointly agreed the following plan:

  • Supporting and equipping members across the three Colleges with the information and skills to influence at a local level
  • Supporting services to implement the standards
  • Continuing discussions and negotiation between the Colleges and key stakeholders at a national policy level
  • Ensuring children and young people and their parents and carers know the quality of care they can expect and help to change behaviours.