NHS 'excludes' children from decision making

By Tristan Donovan

| 25 March 2013

Health bodies are failing to listen to young people when making strategic decisions, a report for the Children's Commissioner for England has concluded.

Children's commissioner Maggie Atkinson says children need more of a say in the health service

The study found that just 28 per cent of local health plans referenced children and young people’s participation.

It also found that even when children were consulted they were often asked to give views on decisions that had already been taken.

“Patient involvement in planning services is core to the government’s health reforms but when it comes to including the public in decision making, children’s views are all too often overlooked or disregarded,” said children’s commissioner Maggie Atkinson.

She said that the new health service structure that starts on 1 April provides an opportunity to remedy the situation.

“There is a real opportunity to embed, strengthen and promote the participation of children and young people in decision making throughout the health system,” she said.

The study, which was carried out by the National Children’s Bureau, said the Department of Health and national-level NHS bodies should develop materials to help local services improve children’s participation in decision making.

It also said that health and wellbeing boards should appoint children’s participation champions.

Hilary Emery, chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, said: “As new structures are put into place it is vital that all parts of the healthcare system actively promote the participation of children and young people in strategic decision making.”

The report also said that the chief medical officer’s Children and Young People’s Health Board and the Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum should hold local health bodies, including councils, to account on children’s participation.

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