Listening to children's views on health provision report published

A new rapid review was carried out by the Research Centre at the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) on behalf of the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum.

Evidence from NCB's report, Listening to children's views on health provision, suggests that children and young people see their parents as playing a very important role in the management of their care but describe 'being treated like I was stupid', being ignored, or being patronised during hospital stays.

Barbara Hearn OBE, deputy chief executive of the National Children's Bureau, said: "Adolescence is a crucial time for the physical and emotional development of young people. Whilst it's encouraging to hear they're happy talking to mum and dad about things that worry them, it's essential they feel listened to by health professionals too."

NCB recently ran a series of consultations with its young membership group, Young NCB.  17 year old Mamataj Begum, a Young NCB member and co-chair of the National Participation Forum (alongside NCB's Barbara Hearn) said: "I strongly believe that children and young people should have a say in all of the decisions that affect the way that they live, or have an impact on their lives. I think it is imperative that children and young people can speak up and be listened to by decision makers when it comes to the decisions that affect them, including decision about their health."

Mamataj's thoughts echo a key theme emerging from NCB's report, which is centred around communication, with evidence suggesting that health staff tend to talk to parents, rather than children, as well as speaking in a way that children found difficult to understand. Mutual respect was also reported to matter a lot to children, who want to be involved in decisions about their health and care.

Barbara, who also sits on the Government's Children and Young People's Health Outcomes Forum, added: " Research shows that being heard and listened to by health professionals is a particular challenge for children with complex or additional needs. If we fail to listen to what children and young people are saying, and give them the help they need, then we will fail to improve their health, we will fail to tackle health inequalities and we will fail to recognise them in their own right in relation to the NHS and public health provision."

Following Listening to children's views on health provision, NCB is calling for the inclusion of under 16 year olds in NHS surveys, from which they are largely excluded, and robust and regular research to establish how young people are consulted on health issues and how their views are taken on board.

NCB is also calling on children services practitioners to be champions for children's health in local strategic partnerships, as well as calling on Health Education England, to ensure that health practitioners are confident in their communication with children and young people.
Barbara concluded: "The reforming NHS and public health service has given us the perfect opportunity to weave the voice, views and experiences of children and young people into our established, adult centric services. We must give young people a much stronger say in decisions about local services, and indeed their own individual care and treatments. 'No decision about me without me' must become a reality for all children and young people."

Participation Works is a partnership of…
British Youth CouncilChildren's Rights Alliance for EnglandKIDSNational Council for Voluntary Youth ServicesNational Youth Agency

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