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Children's Trusts

Volume 482: debated on Tuesday 4 November 2008

10. What discussions he has had with ministerial colleagues on the contribution of local health services to the operation of children’s trusts. (232540)

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health has regular meetings with the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families about a range of policy and operational issues affecting the health and well-being of children. This of course includes issues relating to the operation of children’s trusts. Children, families and stakeholders have been engaged in developing the strategy over the summer. We therefore expect to be in a position to publish the child health strategy later this year.

The Audit Commission published a report last week that concluded that there is little evidence that children’s trusts have improved outcomes for children. My concern is whether local primary care trusts and other health services right across the country are fully playing their role in children’s trusts. The Audit Commission makes six recommendations for central Government. What action can the Minister promise to ensure that all services contribute to the improvements that we need so badly for children?

The hon. Lady mentioned the Audit Commission’s criticism. We are very disappointed that it chose to take such a negative approach. The headline message that has been quoted from the commission’s press release is a misrepresentation of what its report as a whole says and draws on fieldwork that is now almost a year old. Since then, the children’s plan sets out clearly our high ambitions for children and the role of children’s trusts in delivering them. That will become more apparent with the launch of the children’s strategy later this year. I believe that more information for PCTs will be announced by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families on 19 November.