Health & Social Care Committee Sixth Senedd Priorities (Wales) - consultation response

In September 2021, we responded to this consultation to provide our views on the main priorities and issues that the Health and Social Care Committee identified for consideration during the Sixth Senedd (2021-2026).

The Committee identified several potential priorities for work during the Sixth Senedd:

  • Public health and prevention
  • Health and social care workforce, including organisational culture and staff wellbeing
  • Access to mental health services
  • Evidence-based innovation in health and social care
  • Support and services for unpaid carers
  • Access to COVID and non-COVID rehabilitation services; and access to services for long-term chronic conditions, including musculoskeletal conditions

We agreed that all the priorities outlined by the Health & Social Care Committee were important. 

Our 2020 State of Child Health report captured information across a range of indicators and could be seen as a pre-pandemic benchmark of children’s health and wellbeing. Understandably, government action relating to a number of these indicators was disrupted by the pandemic, but the challenges identified in the report have not gone away. We need to understand what progress is now being made to improve children’s health across a range of public health issues including childhood obesity, smoking during pregnancy, breastfeeding rates, preventative dental health; and smoking in young people.

We also highlighted that it was vital that the CYPE Committee continued to work closely with other Committees, particularly the Health and Social Care; Equality and Social Justice; and Climate Change, Environment and Infrastructure Committees to enable a joined-up approach to scrutiny of issues that have a significant impact on children’s health and ensure that work was complementary but did not duplicate.

These included active travel, road and street safety (including implementation of the 20mph policy), recovery of children’s services, oral and dental health (including consideration of water fluoridation) and taking strategic action on unequal outcomes in children’s health caused by broader issues of poverty and inequality. 

We welcomed the proposal from the Committee to undertake a programme of engagement directly with Children and Young People and encouraged them to engage with children and young people in, or with recent experience of, health settings including hospitals. We also asked the Committee to consider specific engagement with children and young people with long term health conditions to ensure that their wider concerns and aspirations were captured. 

Considering feedback in engagement work through a number of our projects including State of Child Health, Paediatrics 2040 and COVID-19 Book Club, priorities consistently highlighted to us by young people in Wales included:

  • Mental health
  • Youth friendly services (including anywhere young people are accessing health information)
  • Access to services
  • Children’s rights (including issues around choice, consent and confidentiality)

Their priorities and the data sets published identified recommendations and wishes from children and young people that extend wider than individual health discussions and looked at the system as a whole. Children and young people have continuously asked that services are connected and place them at the centre as a person, for example with good information sharing between health and education linked to condition management.