Published: 24/10/2002, Volume II2, No. 5828 Page 7

The children's 'czar' has warned that plans to release the national service framework for children in several parts could mean undue focus is placed on hospital care, the subject of the first document.

Speaking at the NHS Alliance annual conference in Harrogate, national director for children's care Professor Al Aynsley-Green said the first part of the framework - on hospital services - would be delivered by the end of the year, as promised by health secretary Alan Milburn.

But he said that although he understood there was a political imperative to get something out fast, it would have been better to publish one integrated document, as the focus on hospitals in the first part of the framework could create the perception that this was an over-riding priority.

Hospital care is just one of six areas to be covered by the framework. The full document on hospitals will be released along with emerging findings for the rest of the framework examining mental health, disabled children, maternity services, healthy children and young people, and children in special circumstances.

Professor Aynsley-Green said the children's framework would be the most difficult of the frameworks to produce, and that the nearest equivalent would be to the framework for older people. He said it would contain between 10 and 20 standards.

Mr Milburn had previously promised Parliament that standards on the hospital care of children would be published by the end of the year. Professor AynsleyGreen confirmed that this first part of the framework would be published in December, and said the rest of the framework would be produced by the end of 2003.

Areas likely to be covered will include child-centred care, access, quality, appropriate care, family support, empowerment, health promotion, prevention, early identification and intervention, safeguarding children, and transition and growing up.

Professor Aynsley-Green said that although children's services would be a priority for primary care trusts, there would be no ringfenced money attached to the framework.

He said: 'Our framework will be one of the first not to have any hypothecated money.'