Advocating for child health: a reflection

Officer for Scotland, Dr Mairi Stark, reflects on the roles of paediatricians as advocates for children and young people as discussed in a recent podcast featuring Dr Mike McKean, Vice President for Policy.
Dr Mairi Stark, with a background featuring headphones

The College's recent podcast episode with Dr Mike McKean, Advocating for child health, now and in the future, provided insights into the role we have as paediatricians to be the voice of children and young people, ensuring their voices are heard as health services continue to go through change.

We face difficult challenges in the months ahead, with longer waiting lists and an increased workload. But we all need to lobby where we can both locally and with Government to make sure that paediatric services are prioritised. By improving the health of children through early intervention, effective management of chronic diseases and tackling obesity, we can promote adults’ health as many chronic diseases have their origins in childhood.

In the podcast, Dr McKean talks about the three golden threads of equal access to high quality healthcare, the importance of data and valuing the broad workforce of people striving to improve children’s lives.

Safeguarding remains a priority, and the College continues to look at how this can be improved, and done well, in a supportive environment for everyone involved. The challenge remains of how we can really keep vulnerable children supported and safe.

...it is our responsibility as paediatricians to look after our patients and their families holistically

The paediatricians of the future will be trained to look after the health and wellbeing of young people, with less distinction being made between physical and mental health. We are seeing increasing numbers of children affected by anxiety and functional issues and it is our responsibility as paediatricians to look after our patients and their families holistically. The new training programme and College resources will help paediatricians in these areas. Better integration of medical, social and education services, with an emphasis on wellbeing, will improve prevention, aid early intervention and lead to better outcomes.

Poverty will be a new question in our histories going forward, to make sure that families have the support they need for their children to thrive. This can be a difficult and sensitive topic but by being open we can understand barriers and better address health inequalities in the future.