Blog: Shining the spotlight on child health - RCPCH at the political party conferences

Party conference season has been and gone for another year. Whilst Brexit, party in-fighting and unfortunate pranks may have been the talk of the main stages, it was on the fringes where the real meaty debate was taking place. RCPCH Public Affairs Lead Margaret Donnellan reflects on this year’s highlights.

The RCPCH held panel discussions at the Labour and Conservative conferences, bringing together politicians, key stakeholders and young people to consider The State of Child Health – Tackling inequalities and improving outcomes for all”.

Both our events were chaired by Channel 4 News’ Health and Social Care Correspondent, Victoria Macdonald, who navigated our panels through wide-ranging discussions around child health and inequalities. Outlining solutions for tackling poverty and inequalities and improving child health for young people across the UK were RCPCH Officer for Health Promotion Russell Viner and Child Poverty Action Group CEO Alison Garnham. They were joined at Labour conference – held this year in sunny Brighton – by Dr Paul Williams MP, member of the House of Commons Health Select Committee, and Louise Brennan, a young person from the local YMCA Right Here project.

In less-sunny Manchester, we welcomed Alice, Ali and Noor from 42nd Street. Both Right Here and 42nd Street provide mental health and wellbeing support for young people in their local areas, and our adult panellists and event attendees were all delighted to hear Louise, Alice, Ali and Noor’s engaging presentations.

Another highlight of the events was the presentation of innovative products created by RCPCH summer intern Amina to help young people communicate their emotions. Both products – a feelings wheel and emoji cards – can be used by young people when in meetings with health professionals, such as a paediatrician, GP or school nurse, or their teachers to express how they are feeling and identify ways they can get help. These products were a hit with attendees, many of whom were keen to share them with their networks, and we have since uploaded the emoji cards to our website. Check them out, download, and share with your colleagues and friends!

RCPCH attends the party conferences to put child health on the agenda for the main political parties. We are always looking for members to get involved in our lobbying work, be it through attending events like these, coming to meetings with politicians in Westminster and the devolved administrations, or writing letters to MPs.

For more information on ways to get involved with RCPCH campaigns, contact the public affairs team at public.affairs@rcpch.ac.uk and help us raise awareness for #childhealthmatters!

For a taster of the discussions held at these events, take a look at our Storify below.