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Wednesday, November 18, 1998 Published at 12:18 GMT


Diana nurses for sick children

Diana was known for her charity work for children

Children with life-threatening illnesses will be able to benefit from special "Diana community nursing teams" so they can be cared for in their own homes.

Government official Keith Young explains the initiative
The government has announced further details of its plans for up to 10 £2m-a-year pilots for the Diana teams, set up in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Their aim is to ensure parents and children with life-threatening or severely disabling conditions such as cancer, cycstic fibrosis, Aids and progressive, degenerative conditions are given the support they need at home.

It is estimated that one in every thousand children and young people under 20 are suffering from a life-threatening condition.

The teams are likely to include children's nurses experienced in community care, GPs, paediatricians, psychologists, trained counsellors and other support staff.

They will be another example of the government's "joined-up" approach to social care by aiming to foster closer working links between social services, the NHS, voluntary and other agencies.

Twenty-four hour care

Nurses will act as key workers and will be contactable 24 hours a day, health minister Baroness Hayman told a conference of the charity ACT (Association for Children with Life-threatening or Terminal Conditions and their Families) on Wednesday.

She said the teams could provide:

  • specialist care and advice
  • practical assistance in the home to help families cope with the demands of caring
  • some equipment for the home and transport
  • emotional, psychological and spiritiual support.

Health authorities have been asked to submit local plans for teams. The government will then decide which initial teams will get funding.

The government hopes to spread the teams nationwide after the pilots have been fully assessed.

Fitting tribute

Baroness Hayman said: "The Diana Children's Community Nursing Teams will be a fitting tribute to the life and work of Diana, Princess of Wales."

She added: "Children born with, or who develop, a life-threatening condition are thankfully very rare in this country. When a child is very poorly and not expected to recover from their illness, they and their families deserve the best support that can be provided."

She said parents often wanted to look after their children in the home, but the support was frequently lacking from health and care workers.

The need for dedicated teams for the most seriously ill children was identified in a January 1997 report by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and ACT and a five-year Department of Health research project which ended in 1997.

Step in the right direction

Christine Hancock, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, welcomed Baroness Hayman's announcement.

[ image: Christine Hancock: the teams are
Christine Hancock: the teams are "an excellent start"
She said: "This marks an excellent start for a service aimed at some of our most vulnerable children and families.

"These nurse-led teams will provide the support and expertise required to allow children to be cared for in their own home."

She added that only half the country had access to community children's nurses so the move on community nursing teams was "a step in the right direction".

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