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The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 12 states Children and Young People have a right to have their views heard in all matters affecting them and for these to be taken seriously. In February 2013 the Government pledged that ‘Children, Young People and their families would be at the heart of decision-making, with the health outcomes that matter most to them taking priority’. The NHS Outcomes Framework, NHS Mandate and Business plan commits to addressing this.
Dr Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner, challenged the NHS in her report ‘We would like to make a change’ stating: ‘We found no coherent national programme of activity to proactively encourage local bodies to include children and young people in strategic health service commissioning or other vital decision-making about NHS provision’. Only 28% of 102 local health plans reviewed referenced children and young people’s participation in their development, the delivery of what was in them, or the evaluation of whether practice matched their aspirations.
UK Youth Parliament 2013 – Leeds #UKYP13 #OurNHS
On the 26th–28th July 250 young people along with 100 youth workers came together for the annual meeting of the Youth Parliament. A small team from NHS England, including myself and my daughter, Rosie, Kath Evans from Patient Experience, Nagina Javaid from Public Voice and Tracy Grey from Equalities and Inequalities – joined them to capture their experiences and ideas about ensuring the NHS is sustainable for the future. Our participation toolkit was describes as the most interactive stall – glitter, glue, post its, bubbles, chat – along with some Haribos ensured we got lots of input!
There were lots of positive messages young people wanted to share:
But there were also lots of ideas for improvement too:
Importantly Young People want to help us to by helping to inspect services and by providing feedback to services:
Some areas have young inspectors, this needs to be routine!
All the young people we spoke to all had views and experiences to share, what’s clear is that the NHS needs to go to them and ensure young people know what’s changed as a result of their input.
We need to share with young people what we’re doing as a result of their input, close the loop!
It’s fuelled up our commitment for how we at NHS England need to establish of robust mechanisms and approaches to engage young people in all aspects of our work – commissioning services, policy and strategy development and leading the NHS system in partnership with CCGs.
Over the coming months we will develop proposals in partnership with The British Youth Council, National Children’s Bureau (NCB), National Council for Voluntary Youth Services (NCVYS) that will really bring young people’s voices and experiences to the heart of our work at NHS England. This work will connect with the early development of a Citizen’s Assembly – more on this later!
Friday 22nd November is Children’s Takeover Day which gives children and young people the chance to work with adults for the day and be involved in decision-making. Children benefit from the opportunity to experience the world of work and make their voices heard, while adults and organisations gain a fresh perspective on what they do.
We’ll tell you more about NHS England’s plans to join in with this soon but have a look at www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk to find out more.
NHS England need to be a role model to all, both nationally and internationally in engaging young people, after all they are the future.