Evidence to inform ‘The Future of the NHS’ – consultation response

We submitted evidence in 2018 to The Lancet outlining the poor health of children in the UK, the impact imposed by inadequate investments in healthcare services and the pressures on the child health workforce.

Ahead of the NHS’s 70th anniversary, the Department of Health Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science collaborated with the Lancet to form a Commission on the future of the NHS

Our response

  • The UK lags behind much of Western Europe on key measures of child health and wellbeing.
  • Children and young people make up over 20% of the population and are high users of healthcare services, and hospital attendances and admissions continue to increase; yet preventive health services for children are bearing the brunt of cuts to public health spending in England.
  • Rota gaps in acute paediatric and neonatal services have increased giving rise to major concerns about safety and the impact on training of new doctors. In paediatrics this has meant an increase in consultant workload to cover gaps.
  • Children are afforded a low priority within strategic decision making in healthcare evidenced by the closure of key forums such as the Chief Medical Officer’s Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Board and Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum established to champion the needs of children.
  • The UK’s departure from the European Union potentially will have a profound influence on medical training, recruiting and retaining the medical and nursing workforce, the regulation of medical products and biomedical research.

Our recommendations

  • Data are used to inform policy recommendations needed to profile the needs of children within the health system and collecting and sharing data makes each and every need of children visible, which helps to makes the case for commissioning services. The RCPCH is the lead organisation that collects and shares data for the State of Child Health report, Paediatric Medical Workforce Census and national audits covering diabetes, epilepsy and neonates.
  • Health organisations must ringfence dedicated, protected time for clinicians to lead and drive improvements in the health system. RCPCH supports a range of quality improvement projects for clinicians and a standardised, robust education offer in leadership and quality improvement is needed to drive innovation and best practice.
  • Services must be designed around the needs of children and young people. Interoperable information systems will support better clinical decision making across health settings, and an integrated healthcare system will ensure children are seen by the right person, in the right place and in a timely manner.
  • NHS England must develop a Children and Young People’s health and wellbeing strategy, to be delivered by a dedicated transformation programme board.
  • Governments across the nations must prioritise adequate resources to fund the workforce needed to fully implement standards in children’s health services. There need to be a child health and wellbeing workforce strategy to consider non-medical workforce solutions.

We respond to a wide range of consultations to ensure that the College’s position, and ultimately children’s health, is represented. Members can get involved in current consultations by contacting the Health Policy team: health.policy@rcpch.ac.uk.