Despite the awful weather conditions, nothing was going to stop members from getting to the inaugural meeting of the NHS England’s Youth Forum, ahead of its formal launch on 3 March 2014 at the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2014 at Manchester Central.
Filmed by a crew from The Reporters Academy, 14 young people, aged from 14 to 25 years, made it from all over England to Ashford in Kent and worked hard and late into the night to hammer out what the NHS means to them and what would make it better able to meet their needs. The participants brought a range of different experiences to the forum, from being family of health care users, to having received acute care or having long-term conditions.
Recognising the important work that they do to make the voices of children and young people heard within the NHS they were joined by senior members of staff from NHS England, the Department of Health and Public Health England.
The young people worked hard on understanding the NHS and then identified key issues that they could assist the NHS with, including reducing stigma relating to mental health, signposting to sexual health services and critically enhancing communication between young people and health care professionals. The Youth Forum is keen to address the ambiguity that exists regarding the rights and responsibilities of young people, and developing resources by young people for young people.
Gulwali Passarlay, 19, said:
“The 20 young people on the NHSYF are those who are involved with youth related issues. They are best able to represent the importance and values of young people’s participation in the NHS.
“Our main priorities are mental health and sexual issues and improving communication. By working together we will achieve our objective of helping young people understand their rights and responsibilities within the NHS.”
David McIntyre, 18, said:
“The NHS Youth Forum is the perfect platform in getting young people’s views on their health services heard. Already there is tremendous support for the forum and decision makers are already seeking our help in improving services.”
Vikram Patel, 17, said:
“We are a forum not just there to make changes for the sake of change, but to rectify the failings of the health system that affect young people either in the short or long term.
“The NHS Youth Forum challenges the shortcomings of NHS services, that are currently in our eyes failing young people, so that improvements can be made.”
Read more about the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2014.