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Hoden Family (Committee Of Inquiry)

Volume 975: debated on Tuesday 11 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what consideration he has given to the report of the committee of inquiry into the experience of the Hoden family, which has recently been published by the Trent regional health authority.

I share the deep concern which has already been expressed by the chairmen of both regional and area health authorities and I welcome the assurance they have given that the detailed consideration of the report will be carried out as a matter of urgency.I am advised that the Trent regional health authority, which set up the committee of inquiry in October 1978, considered its report on 12 November and recommended that Rotherham AHA should undertake an independent comprehensive review of child health services in Rotherham as soon as possible. I understand that the AHA has already set up a sub-committee which is considering the report with a view to putting recommendations to the authority on 13 December.Until this consideration has been completed I should prefer not to comment in detail on the report. In general, however, we must all recognise the relevance to the matters discussed in the report of the recommendations of the Court committee on child health services, which was set up by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry when he was Secretary of State for Social Services in July 1972.

The overall philosophy of the Court report was commended to health authorities by the previous Government in health circular HC(78)5, and the present Government would wish to reaffirm the principles set out in that circular and their concern that health authorities should develop plans for an integrated child health service within the resources available. I note that the committee of inquiry stresses

"the need for close integration between medical, educational, psychological and social services, various therapists, voluntary groups and organisations";

and recommends that

"there should be established a District Handicap Team of professional workers along the lines recommended in the Court Report but modified to take account of the needs and resources of Rotherham".