Doctors in the England could soon be able to prescribe anger management classes for children with behavioural problems under a new 8.9 million pound government scheme.
Under the plans the NHS could pay for anger management for difficult children along with a number of other services such as air conditioning for those with lung disease who struggle to keep cool during the hot summer months. The scheme will see the 8.9 million pounds allocated to 81 deprived areas in England under a framework to tackle inequalities. The framework also aims to encourage local councils and health services to find new ways of working together to prevent ill health amongst the community.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: “For too long health has been seen simply in terms of hospitals and bed numbers. NHS stands for the National Health Service not the National Sickness Service and we want it to live up to its name. We need to radically change the culture of how we shape and deliver care – shifting focus from curing the sick to the proactive prevention of ill health, as well as tackling health inequalities. By giving GPs more flexibility in how they use NHS money and investing more in community based programmes, local services will be able to offer people a seamless service of care – whether in a hospital, in their home or in the community.”
Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly added: “By using this framework and working through Local Area Agreements local authorities and primary care trusts can begin to draw together the contributions of different services, leisure, transport, libraries and housing as well as across social, primary and community care to create the outcomes which lead to prosperous and healthier communities.”
However, shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “Patricia Hewitt must be living on a different planet. The NHS does not have enough money to fund operations, so how does she expect GPs to divert money for NHS treatments into preventative equipment or services? It further illustrates why public health budgets to fund preventative services should be ring-fenced. Joined-up health and social care is absolutely necessary but to break down the barriers we need direct payments that encompass social and healthcare following a single assessment.”
Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association’s GPs committee welcomed the idea of preventing illness through tackling inequalities. But he said: “At a time of massive deficits in local NHS budgets, hospital closures and redundancy and unemployment for doctors, nurses and other health workers, it beggars belief that a government that has lost its way with the NHS wants the service to provide air conditioning and anger management classes. GPs already refer children with behavioural problems to specialist psychiatrists or psychologists, the problem is the shortage of NHS provision in these services. As for air con units – let’s hope that in 12 months time the government is not berating GPs for over-prescribing them.”
Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Providing air conditioning facilities during hot weather for people with lung disease can be helpful, as can community nursing support, timely weather forecasts and advice on pollution levels.”
Finally, Andrea Bilbow, of the National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service, said: “Anger management classes are an incredibly good idea. I hope they becomes a reality.”
George Anderson, MSW, BCD, CAMF