Healthcare standards for children and young people in secure settings

There are about 1,000 children and young people placed in secure settings at any one time on justice or welfare grounds. This cohort of children often have complex needs that span mental health, neurodevelopmental need, substance misuse, and physical health, which can be hard to reach through traditional services.

These standards - first published in 2013, refreshed in 2019 and again in 2023 for England - help healthcare professionals, commissioners, service providers, regulators, managers, directors, and governors ensure that children receive excellent healthcare that meets their individual needs.

The standards take a pathway and multi-professional approach, following the child’s  journey through a secure setting. They apply to children and young people aged between 10-17 (inclusive) on both welfare and justice placements in secure  settings, including Young Offender Institutions, Secure Children’s Homes, Secure Training Centres, and in the future the Secure School.

Healthcare staff should be good at what they do and there when we need them.

Child placed in a secure setting

Audit and Refresh

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In 2022 NHS England commissioned an audit to understand how the 2019 standards were being met by healthcare providers within the Children and Young People’s Secure Estate (CYPSE) across England. The audit found that there had been an increase in the number of standards being met since the 2018 stocktake, with 99% of standards now being fully met.

As a result, it was concluded that a refresh of the standards would provide a valuable opportunity to enhance the standard of healthcare delivered to children and young people living in the welfare and justice settings. 

The standards refresh has been led by NHS England Health & Justice, together with an expert reference group comprised of clinical and non-clinical professionals including commissioners, providers and national bodies. NHS England also collaborated with Peer Power, a child’s voice organisation, to ensure the child’s voice shaped the development of the refreshed standards.