What does a survey of 19,000 children and young people tell us about the health system? Young NCB member Jack Welch asks some difficult questions.
With the quality of young people’s healthcare playing such a vital role in our lives, it was fitting that a small team from Young NCB were invited to challenge the people behind the latest survey produced by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in the House of Lords. Myself and three fellow representatives of Young NCB probed and scrutinised the findings of this new survey – the first of its kind for 11 years!
Speaking to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Edward Baker, admitted that the time delay between the last survey and the present day was not acceptable and would be reconsidered in future consultations.
The report, which focused on those aged between 8 and 15, found that 90% of children and young people felt safe in the ward they were on and 75% felt that medical procedures were explained to them clearly.
However, Young NCB members were concerned that the limited age range meant that issues relating to the transition to adult services and how in-patients received treatment for mental health care were somewhat neglected. As Professor Baker revealed in his responses to our questions, while only 1% of under 15s were treated in adult wards, this significantly increased for those over that age. It was more worrying still that the facilities on paediatric wards were not at all suited to teenagers’ but were aimed much more towards younger children.
Further questions from the meeting included whether surveys were an appropriate tool to gather the opinions of young people, many of whom may not be inclined to give honest answers when they are around other people or may not be best engaged with this method. Professor Baker recognised this as a potential drawback, but believed that the survey was an important one to get the views of young people in hospitals heard.
What I found to be particularly worrying was the contrast in results for those young people who had disabilities or mental health issues, which suggested they were not always getting the same standard of care as other young patients.
Less than half of parents in this respect said that they thought that doctors had understood the needs of their child, with 72% of parents of children without a pre-existing condition agreeing with this statement. I questioned Professor Baker on this front, especially when it came to transitioning to adult care and how many of those with learning disabilities often struggle in their development once over 18. Other audience members also asked in regards to the care of BME groups and if standards of care fared any better regardless of background.
At the end of the event, we felt satisfied that CQC had listened to our views, that our questions were more than challenging and that action will be taken to improve the quality of children and young people’s healthcare in general.
Results from CQC’s survey of children and young people is available at: http://www.cqc.org.uk/content/children-and-young-peoples-survey-2014