Informing Parliament : Paediatric Medicines and Children’s Services

Over the last month, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children held two meetings:

  • Tuesday 13 June 2006: Paediatric Medicines (joint meeting with the APPG for the Pharmaceutical Industry)
  • Monday 26 June 2006: Directors of Children’s Services

Unfortunately, the meeting arranged for Tuesday 27 June on the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Bill was cancelled due to ministerial commitments. 

Tuesday 13 June: Paediatric Medicines

Speakers:      Judith Cope (Chief Pharmacist, Great Ormond Street Hospital)
Dr Sheila Shribman (National Clinical Director for Children)
Professor Rosalind Smyth (Professor of Paediatric Medicine, University of Liverpool and Director of the Co-ordinating Centre for the UK Medicines for Children Research Network)
Kedge Martin (Chief Executive, WellChild)

This meeting, jointly convened by the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Children and the Pharmaceutical Industry, looked at the various practical and ethical issues around developing medicines for children.  Dr Judith Cope, introduced by Professor Sir Cyril Chantler (Chairman of the Board of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust), provided the view from the hospital.  She explained ‘off-label’ prescribing and outlined how medical professionals make decisions about the use of medicines in treating children.  Dr Sheila Shribman focused on the role of the Paediatric British National Formulary in improving the situation.  Professor Rosalind Smyth then outlined work being carried out by the Children’s Research Network to promote the formulation of paediatric medicines, addressing in particular the ethical issues around research in children.  Finally, Kedge Martin described what it is like for a family with a child in a clinical trial, and what can be done to promote recruitment for paediatric clinical trials. 

Monday 26 June: Directors of Children’s Services

Speakers:      David Hawker (Chair, Association of Directors of Education and Children’s Services and DCS at Brighton & Hove)
Terry Piggott (DCS at Rochdale)
Andrew Webster (Director of Family Services at Surrey). 
This meeting provided an opportunity to discuss different approaches to the role of Director of Children’s Services being taken by local authorities, and to assess its impact at this early stage.  Three Directors of Children’s Services shared their own experiences, and provide an overview of the systems and procedures they are putting in place in order to deliver coordinated children and young people’s services.  Presentations were followed by questions and discussions. 

Terry Piggott focused on the role of the Director of Children’s Services (DCS), over-regulation, and planning for the next generation of DCSs.  The DCS provides an obvious focus for leadership and accountability.  He/she is clearly responsible for partnership working, and is held accountable for service delivery, duties which are carried out through varying levels of control and influence.  Terry said that there is too much monitoring, inspecting and external advice, and too many plans and targets.  This originates from a variety of offices – for example DfES, Ofsted, CSCI – and it is ill-coordinated.  Terry is concerned, because compliance saps creativity and commitment.   Finally, he stressed that proper efforts are needed to ensure that the next generation of DCSs is better prepared.  He suggested the creation of a National Professional Qualification for DCSs (NPQDCS), like the NPQ for Headteachers, which could be designed and delivered on a multi-agency basis. 

David Hawker addressed Children’s Trusts, commissioning, and workforce development.  For Brighton & Hove a Children’s Trust is a comprehensive service concept, a strategic partnership, a commissioning mechanism, and a vehicle for achieving service integration.  It represents a different way of looking at children, and provides better means of involving children and parents/carers in decision-making.  Finally, it is a stimulus for workforce development.  Brighton & Hove takes an area-based approach to Children’s and Young People’s Trust governance, putting multi-agency working at the grassroots level, and with the aim of linking up the budgets and objectives of the authority, local schools, GPs and VCS organisations.  NHS trusts, voluntary organisations, parents and the police authority share the management of a singe budget within the Children and Young People’s Trust (CYPT).  A series of Strategic Partnership and Planning Groups carry out the thinking and planning, which they feed into the DCS, who then reports to the CYPT Board.

David outlined the 3-step commissioning process, involving service review, service re-design, and service procurement. This strategy uses a partnership approach, with all relevant bodies – including the VCS – involved up until purchasing decision-making and negotiations begin. 

David said that getting workforce development right requires time and resources.  He outlined his recommendations for three days’ training entitlement for all staff: day 1 – understanding the service; day 2 – learning the process (CAF, Lead Professional etc); day 3 – team building.

Andrew Webster outlined why Surrey County Council decided to merge children’s services and adult social services, creating the single role of Director of Families and Services (DFS), and what benefits this had for the children’s agenda.  The decision was taken to merge the two because Surrey is a large authority with highly decentralised delivery of services, the large number of service providers is complicated for the public, the approach strengthens communities, and the approach provides better value for money.  The benefits of this approach for the children’s agenda are better collaborative working within the council, collaboration with other services, ensuring schools engage the whole family and not just the pupil, and self-sufficiency and independence. Andrew concluded by saying that the integrated children’s services agenda can provide foundations for further integration of support to families.   Most children thrive in families, and families thrive in supportive communities.  This needs to be reflected in service delivery. 

The following meetings have been arranged for July:

  • Monday 10 July: Information Sharing and Assessment.  With a ministerial update from Rt Hon Beverley Hughes MP, Minister for Children and Young People, and presentations by two information sharing trailblazers
  • Tuesday 11 July: Children’s Commissioner for England and AGM: with a presentation by Claire Phillips, Director of Policy and Research at the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
  • Wednesday 12 July: Refugee Children in Detention.  Joint meeting with the APPG for Refugees to mark the launch of a report on alternatives to detention.

Please contact Alison Linsey, Clerk to the Group (email: [email protected]), or Zoë Renton (email: [email protected]):

  • To be added to the email mailing list to receive minutes and invitations to meetings
  • For copies of minutes from any of the meetings
  • For any further information about the Group.

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