Irish Penal Reform Trust

UK report highlights need for emphasis on children's health

16th September 2010

Original article appeared in the Guardian, 16 September 2010, by Sarah Boseley.

Professor Sir Ian Kennedy, commissioned by the NHS to carry out research into children's health services, today commented on his report which claims that those children most in need of health services are severely under-provided for.

'Children currently have a low priority in the NHS' reports Kennedy, saying that there was little done to promote physical and mental health.

As an assumedly healthy sub-group, their needs are often downplayed and only the most perfunctory services are provided while the bulk of services are aimed at adults. Damningly, a UNICEF report has ranked the UK at the bottom of a list of 25 countries in terms of how they develop the well-being of children.

Kennedy called for integration of services, and for the portion of the budget spent on children to be taken from the various departments, and spent with an integrated view, complementing education and social services spending. 

IPRT's recent research report - From Justice to Welfare: The Case for Investment in Prevention and Early Intervention - notes that poor mental and physical health, associated with disadvantage, are often common factors of those young people who come in contact with the criminal justice system.

The report states:

Early intervention in general aims to ensure that all children are given an optimal start in life through the provision of supports to children and their families, based on their needs, as well as to the wider community, across a range of policy areas - education, health, family and child policy - all aimed at ensuring more equal outcomes for children.

The prospect of joined-up children's spending and policies is clearly a positive step towards the prioritisation of childhood.

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