Human rights and children

The mental health and the human rights of children, and having their voices heard, has been high on the political agenda following a recent report by the United Nations on the progress made by Great Britain with regard to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, 1989. There has been particular concern about the lack of joined-up service provision, the need to conduct child rights impact assessments when developing laws and policies that affect children and improving support services for children who have mental health concerns.

Research into healthcare for children

The National Health Service (NHS) puts patient experience at the centre of the work it does. While there are systems and processes in place to evidence the level of service for adults, there are fewer research intiatives looking at the care of children within the NHS.

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) survey on children and young people, conducted in 2016, looked at their experiences of inpatient and day case care in hospitals. This is one of the few surveys to talk to children and ask them how they felt about their healthcare encounters. Feedback was generally positive, and parents and carers also reported positive encounters.

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Areas suggested for improvement for hospitals included:

  • Children and young people having enough things to do while in hospital.
  • Involving children and young people in decision making.
  • Being treated on age appropriate wards.
  • Access to the right equipment and adaptions for their needs were less positive for those with a long term physical condition, learning disability, mental health condition or long standing illness.
  • Children who stayed on an adult ward were also less likely to have access to the right equipment.
  • In line with the Accessible Information Standard the NHS needs to ensure that younger patients receive information in a way they can understand and provide communication support as necessary. The survey found some variation in patient access to appropriate information, with around 21% saying they did not have written information about their child’s condition to take home with them.

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