Royal College slates STPs for ignoring child health

Most STPs are failing infants, children and young people, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has claimed.

Its report The State of Child Health: Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships says STPs have made plenty of promises on issues such as better mental health care and integrated working, but there is a lack of detail about how it will be delivered to the infants, children and young people who comprise a quarter of the population.

The Royal College claims there are “major deficiencies”. Most STPs do not recognise the life-long impact of poor childhood health and barely mention the health and wellbeing needs of children, except in relation to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Birmingham and Solihull and Greater Manchester are exceptions; they have spelt out how they will improve children’s care over the next five years.

Cheshire and Merseyside STP hosts the only Acute Care Model Vanguard for women and children.

We’ve found a lack of clarity around strategic direction, oversight, accountability and responsibility

STPs have not demonstrated they have met their statutory duties to engage with children, young people and their families, including vulnerable and hard to reach groups, and those with complex needs and disabilities. There has also been little engagement with paediatricians and other child health clinicians.

The number of hospital admissions for children in England rose 25% between 2013/14 and 2015/16, but STPs do not explain how they will address the serious shortage of paediatric consultants.

Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “We’re disappointed at the lack of focus on the health and wellbeing needs of infants, children and young people. It is short sighted and a major cause for concern that they appear to have been forgotten.

“We’ve found a real lack of clarity around strategic direction, oversight, accountability and responsibility for STPs as they evolve. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that STPs, or any new models of care, will be successful given the substantial workforce shortages.”

Photo: BMA