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The National Service Framework for Children
  1. A Craft
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor Sir A Craft
    Department of Child Health, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK;

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“Children are the living message we send to a time we will not see”

1There is an increasing recognition that the wellbeing of the pregnant mother, foetus, and growing child are important determinants of health in later life. However, the effects may not become apparent until at least the age of 50. Although Churchill said that one of the best investments a government can make is to put milk into the stomachs of children, it would be a brave and farsighted political party that would invest in something which was not going to show any real benefits within a parliamentary time scale or two—that is, a maximum of 10 years.

We have seen over the last few years that children are a high priority for the government of the UK across a broad spectrum. The recognition that the future of our nation depends on the education of children was highlighted by the Prime Minister’s assertion of his priorities: “Education, education, education”. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has been trying hard to end child poverty and to reduce the gap between rich and poor. Youth offending and behaviour have been the target of much action. But what of health?

The long awaited National Service Framework (NSF) for Children for England was recently published.2 A separate NSF for Children for Wales has also appeared.3 The messages in both are similar but the Welsh version comes with more of an action plan. The NSFs were part of the NHS Modernisation Plan, and several have already been published. For example, the NSF for cancer has been particularly effective in improving services, and the falling death rate across all ages is a tribute to it. Of course, the UK is only just catching up with much of Europe, which has long had …

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