In response RCPCH President Dr Camilla Kingdon said:
The pandemic has had a terrible impact on children’s health and wellbeing and on the services that support them, so we’re glad to see the publication of this plan on tackling waiting lists and transform planned care in Wales.
As paediatricians, we know long delays can have a particularly significant impact on children as many treatments are age or developmental stage critical. We’re pleased that the Welsh Government recognises this and has now sent a clear statement that children and young people must be prioritised; with their needs and services considered and measured separately to adult services.
Health inequalities impact a child’s whole life.
The pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities and we have consistently highlighted our concern that it has held back much needed progress, including on childhood obesity, mental health and oral health.
We’re therefore pleased to see the Welsh Government make reducing inequalities a central plank of their strategy for recovery within health services. Crucially, however, this means other strategies and plans will determine the success of this one. The delivery of Healthy Weight Healthy Wales, will be essential to ensure childhood obesity is tackled. Commitments set out in the Welsh Government’s Children and Young People Plan will need to be realised to improve children and young people’s mental health – rightly a key priority in this strategy. On children’s oral and dental health, we urgently need to understand how and when improvements will be achieved, given the plan reports activity is 50% down on the same period pre-pandemic.
Underpinning all of this is the child health workforce.
Through the document, the Welsh government has committed to building a sustainable workforce, but as an organisation we are clear that we need to see the promised Workforce Delivery Plan for Wales.
The plan simply cannot be achieved without the people who will deliver these services. The workforce must therefore be a top priority for the Welsh Government.
These themes are not unique to Wales of course and we stand ready to work with services and governments across the UK to consider innovative ways of working to support our children and young people for the future. The plan sets out ways in which this can be achieved in Wales and the focus must now be on delivery and implementation.