Health improvement programmes continue to show 'major weaknesses' in their treatment of children and young people's health, a report by children's charities including the Children's Society and NSPCC has found.

The report shows 'significant' progress since the charity examined the performance of MPs one year ago. Its authors also welcomed the recent announcement of a national service framework for children as a further move to prioritise children's health.

But the survey of 84 of England's 99 HImPs listed major weaknesses, including the limited attention given to the specific health needs of black and minority ethnic children and young people, and the limited recognition of the potential impact on children of adult behaviours and health conditions.

The report said 'our over-riding concern with the HImPs was that they demonstrated so clearly the fragmentation of children's services. Faced with a plethora of plans and initiatives - some addressing children and young people specifically, others including them within generic provision, and many lacking targets and milestones - it becomes very difficult to determine whether their health needs are being met.'

It found 'sparse evidence of the true integration of health and social care'. Authors also had concerns about central priorities and the effect of target-setting.

Improving Children's and Young People's Health - a health improvement programmes (HimPs) analysis 2001.£12.50.

e-mail infounit@nspcc. org. uk