The year in health policy began with the long-awaited NHS Long Term Plan. So, how does the Long Term Plan (LTP) measure up for child health? And how does CYPHP’s work fit?
Let’s start with the opening three themes.
- Pride: Yes, we’re very proud indeed of the improvements CYPHP is making in children’s health.
- Concern: Child poverty is rising, and far too many children live in conditions that prevent them from thriving. This is a major threat to health – and it is preventable.
- Optimism: Yes, always. Our partnership of highly committed individuals and organisations is dedicated to improving outcomes for children. How wonderful!
As for the main content of the LTP, there is much to be cheerful about, and there are a few things about which we’ll just have to wait and see.
- Care quality and outcomes. There is a pleasing focus on women’s and children’s health, and a stark reminder that children’s outcomes nationally are comparatively poor. There are more evidence-based recommendations made around maternity care than children’s, highlighting the need for more children’s health services, systems, and policy research. CYPHP is at the forefront in this important area balancing quality improvement with health services research, being both rigorous and relevant.
- Prevention, health promotion, inequalities. The interdependencies between NHS and public health are rightly acknowledged. The next spending review and public health grant will tell us much about the likely success of some of the important ambitions of the LTP. The top contributors to the burden of disease in England are highlighted: smoking, poor diet, obesity, alcohol and drugs. CYPHP is contributing to early detection and intervention, and health promotion at population level. As a system, could we, should we, do more?
There are some specific highlights to note here and some helpful topics to consider as CYPHP evolves and embeds.
- Satisfaction with GP services nationally has declined particularly among young people aged 16-25 years. So, we’re pleased that CYPHP has been working specifically on this aspect of improving age-appropriate care through the Teen Health Talk, and links with Dr Steph Lamb’s Well Centre.
- Primary care networks with community based multidisciplinary teams are a main feature in the LTP. CYPHP’s work is a helpful counterpoint to the focus on the elderly population. We’re evolving our delivery model to fit with primary care networks, and of course our model is already about community based multidisciplinary teams.
- Clinical Assessment Services with a single point of access to pre-hospital urgent care, to support patients in navigating through the “optimum channel” feels adult focused too. But this is all about joining up primary and secondary care, and physical with mental health, which is exactly what we’re doing in CYPHP. We’re focused on children with ongoing conditions. Should the same approach be applied to urgent care for children? Should Urgent Treatment Centres be the location for neighbourhood-based Child Health Homes? A local hub for multidisciplinary urgent and non-urgent care as well as health promotion?
- Person-centred care. Again, this is adult and elderly focused. Fortunately, CYPHP’s Health Checks and Health Packs promote shared responsibility and empower families; important for person-centred care.
- Digitally enhanced care. CYPHP’s patient portal enhances access and improves equity by enabling self-referral for families of children with ongoing conditions.
I hope you’ll agree that there’s much to be cheerful about as we start 2019, and our third year delivering new services. I look forward to continuing working with you to improve children’s health.
Director, Children & Young People's Health Partnership
Consultant Paediatric Population Medicine, Evelina London Children's Health
Senior Clinical Lecturer, School of Population Health, King's College London
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