Published: 17/04/2003, Volume II3, No. 5851 Page 9

A network of neonatal intensive care services costing£72m is to be created as part of an attempt to improve children's healthcare.

Children's czar Professor Al Aynsley-Green and health secretary Alan Milburn announced the new specialist network that will provide 75 new intensive care cots at the same time as unveiling the first part of the national service framework for children.

The framework outlines new standards designed to make hospital care more child-friendly.

This includes creating children's sections of accident and emergency departments, providing separate facilities for young children and teenagers and providing children's menus that youngsters will want to eat.

Following recommendations made in the Bristol inquiry, each hospital trust will be obliged to provide a 'children's champion' at board level and, following the inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbié, no child will be able to leave hospital without a care pathway outlined.

Hospitals will also be expected to provide high-quality educational support so that children do not fall behind with their schooling, provide specialist training for staff dealing with children and carry out regular security reviews of children's wards.

The remaining standards in the children's framework are due to be announced before the end of the year.