Sub-Standard Treatment of Children Results in the Creation of New Standards

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has called for a radical change in the healthcare afforded to children and young people in the UK.

The significant financial crisis in the NHS has created large scale workforce pressures in many inpatient paediatric units. This has had the unfortunate knock-on effect of poor healthcare outcomes for children coupled with the inadequate provision of healthcare on a whole.

The status quo cannot continue and in order to address the present situation in paediatric services, the RCPCH has published a new set of service standards – Facing the Future: Standards for Paediatric Services.

According to the RCPCH, the 10 standards address the timeliness of care, the grade of doctors that can review and discharge children, the availability of consultant input, the minimum number of doctors required for safe rotas as well as doctor’s responsibilities in respect of child protection services.

The 10 standards are as follows:

1. Every child or young person who is admitted to a paediatric department with an acute medical problem must be seen by a paediatrician on the middle grade or consultant rota within four hours of admission.
2. Every child or young person who is admitted to a paediatric department with an acute medical problem must be seen by a consultant paediatrician (or equivalent staff, speciality and associate specialist grade doctor who is trained and assessed as competent in acute paediatric care) within the first twenty four hours
3. Every child or young person with an acute medical problem who is referred for a paediatric opinion must be seen by, or have the case discussed with, a paediatrician on the consultant rota, a paediatrician on the middle grade rota or a registered children’s nurse who has completed a recognised programme to be an advanced practitioner.
4. All SSPAUs (Short Stay Paediatric Units) should have access to a paediatric consultant (or equivalent) opinion throughout all the hours they are open.
5. At least one medical handover in every 24 hours should be led by a paediatric consultant (or equivalent).
6. A paediatric consultant (or equivalent) should be present in the hospital during times of peak activity.
7. All general paediatric inpatients units should adopt an attending consultant system, most often in the form of the consultant of the week system.
8. All general acute paediatric rotas should be made up of at least 10 WTEs, all of whom must be WTD compliant.
9. Specialist paediatricians should be available for immediate telephone advice for acute problems for all specialities and for all paediatricians.
10. All children and young person’s social care (or their equivalent), police and health departments should have access to a paediatrician with child protection and skills (of at least Level 3 safeguarding competencies) available to provide immediate advice and subsequent assessment, if necessary, for children under 19 years of age where there are child protection concerns. The requirement is for advice, clinical assessment and the timely provision of an appropriate medical opinion, supported with a written document.

For more information and for an explanation of the standards set out above, please see

The medical negligence team at Gregory Abrams Davidson LLP represent many families bringing claims on behalf of their child who has suffered as a result of sub-standard care. We have the expert knowledge to deal with such cases.

If you or somebody you know has been affected by poor child healthcare, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our dedicated team on 0151 733 3353 or 020 8209 0166. Alternatively, you can email us at