New Children’s Health Outcomes Strategy Planned By UK Government

The UK government has revealed new plans for a focus to improve health care for children and young people.

The ‘Children’s and Young People’s Outcomes Strategy’, which will be unveiled later in the year, will concentrate on improving healthcare service outcomes for children, including those requiring primary, hospital and urgent care, and children with long-term health conditions. The strategy will identify health issues that matter the most to children and young people, and propose how a modern NHS will meet their needs, noted the UK’s Department of Health.

The UK government’s aim for the new Strategy “is a simple one – to improve outcomes for children and young people’s health,” commented Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley.

The strategy “will bring together people and resources from across the NHS, social care and wider children’s services to develop a clear set of goals to give all children the right start in life,” he said.

“By intervening early, we will be able to influence patterns of behaviour and can ensure that children and young people get the quality of care, services and support they deserve,” he added.

To provide advice for the strategy, an assembly of independent experts from local government, the NHS and charities will listen to views from children, parents, carers and the wider family, as well as health professionals. The group, which will be called the ‘Children’s and Young People’s Forum’, will function as an equivalent to the NHS Future Forum listening exercise, with the task of creating a set of health service outcomes for child health and addressing longstanding system issues that currently prevent children from accessing universal and specialist care.

The Forum will consist of 52 members, invited by the Health Secretary, who will meet once a month over a three-month (January-March) period of appointments with the appropriate stakeholders, before reporting back and submitting their recommendations to the government later this year.

The Children’s and Young People’s Forum is to be jointly chaired by the medical director at the Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Professor Ian Lewis, and the director of the Council for Disabled Children (CDC), Christine Lenehan.

Professor Lewis declared that he welcomed the opportunity “to focus on children and young people in order to ensure that the modernisation of health services works well for them.”

“It’s a genuine chance to make a difference to improve the availability and quality of healthcare provided to them by the NHS,” he added.

Ms Lenehan commented that “we have been asking government to address the Cinderella status of children’s health services for some time and are delighted that they have picked up the gauntlet.”

However, the NHS Confederation warns that while the government is “on the right course” by bringing in expertise to the Children’s and Young People’s Forum from healthcare and other local services, they risk creating a system that is not properly joined up and could fail children and young people if it does not obtain input from the full range of available professionals.

“We believe it would be even better if other departments were brought in to develop the framework,” commented Jo Webber, the Confederation’s deputy policy director. “Buy-in from top to bottom is really important, especially when planning care for those children with the most complex needs,” she added.

The new Forum “faces a real challenge. We need a new framework that is compatible both with the social care and public health outcomes frameworks, the mental health strategy and wider government policy so it genuinely works for children,” noted Ms Webber.


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