How we can help children improve their health

The launch of the Children’s and Young People’s Forum Health Outcomes Forum presents a key opportunity to improve services for them, says Barbara Hearn, deputy chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau.

In a blog on the BBC website, she says that while health promotion plays a key role, a significant and early point of contact with health services for a teenager is their GP.

‘Some children and young people express feeling embarrassed and judged when they seek advice from their GP. They can find it hard to describe their own health concerns and find it hard to understand their doctor’s response.

‘While GPs continue to improve in terms of their own confidence and capacity to make a child patient feel comfortable it is not yet a guaranteed good experience for those under 18′s everywhere.

‘Practices need to be attuned to just how intimidating an all adult environment can be for teens and pre-teens to enter.’

Barbara, a member of the Forum, suggests three areas where changes could be made:

  • ‘Better professional development – GPs do have some training in child development but it is insufficient.
  • ‘The 10-minute patient slots are simply too short to establish a relationship with a tentative young person.
  • ‘To ensure the services GPs are offering are the right ones, young patients should be involved – alongside other patients – in decisions about the services their GP surgery provides.’
In Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum, Conversations

5 Responses to How we can help children improve their health

  1. Donna Telfer - Assistant Direstor of Strategy & Public Health NHS North Essex says:

    Please can I urge that the issue of early interventions and the need to improve access to appropriate health-related services for children and young people is given the utmost importance in these proposed developments.
    To refer to the services (currently and in general) provided by GPs for young people, is, on its own, inappropriate.
    Many of us working in this field, will know young people do not generally or readily access their local GP services and will choose to access other services that better meet their needs. That is; services where they feel safe & secure; confident they are being listened to and respected; met with and treated in confidence; and most of all, a service that they would not hesitate to recommend to their mates. This is not usually their GP practice!
    I would welcome the opportunity to advise and further discuss these important issues and others related to best meeting the needs of C&YP as part of these proposed developments.

  2. Emma Thomas, Children's Business Manager NHS Tees says:

    I am supportive of Donna’s email and am also happy to be included in further discussion of how we can utilise existing tools like You’re Welcome and young people’s skills to improve access.

  3. Helen Gabriel says:

    I am concerned that children’s occupational therapists are not represented in the panel. They are key in the lives of many children and young people with disabilities and I request that a representative is sought.

  4. Gillian Smith, Clinical Services Manager, Specialist Community Children's Services says:

    Having looked at the Commissioning Outcomes Framework (COF) I am concerned that it is hard to see where our community children fit into it, and therefore could be marginalised when commissioning decisions are made. The COF describes acutely sick people, whereas many of the children on the community caseloads are not ‘sick’ in the conventional sense, but they do have needs which can be met by health professionals ie, therapists and community doctors. The section on ‘longterm conditions’ does not fit those children, although some of them of course will be included in the mental health section through CAMH services. But not all children with developmental difficulties or disability have specialist mental health needs. GPs, as new commissioners, will have to become aware of the range of conditions that are currently managed in community child health services, many of which are not referred by GPs but by other partners in the wider children and young people’s services. There is a risk that the narrow range of the COF will distract from meeting the needs of children in community heath services and result in poorer outcomes for them, with short and long term consequences.

  5. M Campbell says:

    I would like to express my disappointment that Health Visitors are not included in the panel as we are often the consistent professional group that are involved with children under 5 and we have an influential role in supporting families to make choices for children’s health and well being

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