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NHS England’s new Youth Forum has already seen its first success in demonstrating the power of speaking with one voice on the issues that matter most to young people.
Officially launched today at the Health and Care Innovation Expo being held at Manchester Central by NHS England’s medical director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, with the help of TV presenter June Sarpong, the network is bringing together the patients, doctors, nurses and managers of future generations in identifying how the NHS must evolve to take into account their needs and aspirations.
Already its work has directly informed the Government how a failure to permit complaints from young people disconnects them from the health service and stifles their voices, and action will be taken shortly to clarify the rights of under-18s to flag up concerns within the NHS constitution.
The youth forum comprises 20 young people and thousands more via social media and partner organisations. Its core members met for their first weekend of action last month and are working hard to build on their first three priorities:
- Working with partners to develop recommendations for improving communication between young people and clinicians
- Improving awareness of mental health issues for young people
- Focusing on de-stigmatising sexual health services and improving young people’s sexual health
Members Vikram Patel and Tom Yems issued heartfelt pleas to the audience at Innovation Expo to help them further their goals.
“We are not just 20, we are thousands,” Vikram, 17, said.
Linked into a Facebook network, and with the support of delivery partners the British Youth Council, the Youth Forum will work with NHS England, Public Health England and the Department of Health to improve services for young people.
A critical element will be embedding the Health and Wellbeing Manifesto within the CMO’s report ‘Our Children deserve better, Prevention pay’. The Forum will work closely with NHS England’s Board to deliver their objectives.
The delivery of the Forum is supported by the British Youth Council and a reference group of a wide range of youth sector partners. This group will also be part of the emerging NHS Citizen programme – a network of people and patients who can work with the NHS to improve healthcare.
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 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.”
NHS England’s director of patient and public voice Giles Wilmore, and Neil Churchill, director for improving patient experience, each hailed the formation of the Youth Forum both for providing an opportunity for young people to help shape NHS services but also for providing the opportunity to do so in a safe and respectful way.
- Read more about the Health And Care Innovation Expo here.
- Watch a video about the NHS Youth Forum here.
- Follow developments on Twitter with the hashtag #NHSYF