Young people must have a say in health care

A representative from the NHS Youth Forum and co-chair of this year’s Expo National Quality Board explains how it’s time for policy-makers, commissioners and providers to start listening to young people:

In recent years, the NHS focus has been concerned with the health of adults and the quality of care this group receives – but what about the future health of children and young people?

There are over 11 million people under the age of 18 living in England right at this moment – this means that around one in five of us are children, teenagers or minors. But do young people have an equal say in their NHS, the same as other demographics? I believe it’s something that needs to be addressed.

The NHS intends to provide ‘quality healthcare for all’ and, with the publication of the Five Year Forward View, it’s evident NHS policymakers are open to new ideas of how to involve people in their own wellbeing and healthcare. But what this looks like can mean different things between theory and practice.

There are certain groups – such as young people – who don’t have easy access to ‘game-changing’ policy decisions, who wouldn’t have any idea of how to translate their GP or hospital experience into a review, or voice a discussion to make real change in the NHS.

This needs to change. Why? Because it’s from these groups of people where innovation and inspiration are born; from their experiences in clinics, wards, the operating theatre, in schools, out on the street and even online.

It’s time we established ways in which these critical experiences can be communicated to those designing the future of the NHS, otherwise new policies will not represent the true voice of our children and young people population.

This means involving our elderly, young children, working adults, disadvantaged, ethnic or LGBTI minorities and young people, because the United Kingdom is a family of diverse people from all walks of life.

At Expo 2017, The National Quality Board and NHS Youth Forum will hold a special meeting on what quality healthcare really looks like for children and young people. This will be co-chaired by Sir Bruce Keogh, myself, and Rosie Glossop from the NHS Youth Forum, and will cover how to make services effective for children and young people; the future of digital health care for young people and how we can help tackle the rising problem of AMR.

So if you’re committed to playing your part in ensuring a strong foundation for young people’s health then come along to our special NQB/Youth Forum mash-up – we’ll be at Expo on Monday 11 September, 14:30 to 16:00 in Theatre Room 1. See you there!

Susie Williams

Susie Williams is currently studying her final year of A Levels at Frome College and applying to University to study Medicine.

She is passionate about healthcare being of a high quality everywhere and for everyone, and believes there is a different way to address illness and disease that is based on prevention and living vitally.

She is a lifeguard, swimming instructor, blogger and hospital volunteer and hosts a regular Patient Participation Group at her local medical practice, through which young people can voice their experiences and ideas on their healthcare.

She is a member of the NHS England Youth Forum made up of 25 young people from all over the country, who have a passion for improving health services for young people.

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  1. Bernadette Glass says:

    Great to read about this initiative Susie Williams and to feel your commitment and dedication to the well-being of your community and especially your peers.

  2. Kassander says:

    “Young people must have a say in health care”

    Agreed – 100%

    We must ALL have a voice which is listened to in OUR=NHS and at the NHS England (NHSE) Board

    *It’s 18 months since the only Official NHSE online discussion forum – Citizen-Gather – was assassinated one dark night

    *It’s 12 months since the Board of NHSE & P&P were promised a replacement within 4 weeks

    Why are we waiting?
    Why, oh, why?

    *The Exec in Charge is Prof Cummings
    *The NED in Charge is Lord Victor Adebowale CBE
    *Anu Singh was the Director of the project but she seems to have gone AWOL

    What we P&P need is a United Front to demand that we ALL have a say in how OUR=NHS is run before it becomes THEIR-NHS.

    Why not join us?