The Children and Young People’s Health Outcome Forum have reported to the Department of Health. This report will inform a strategy for young people’s health that the DH have said they will produce this summer.
In our area the Forum have recognised the point that we made in our submission about the lack of local data on drug and alcohol misuse and recommend that a population based children and young people’s survey is developed including indicators which will allow local policy makers to judge the prevalence of substance misuse. More broadly they see the need for this data to draw in other stakeholders:
Effective delivery of public health services requires the commitment of staff and organisations which are outside the direct control of the health system but are core partners to it. The new health and wellbeing boards bring tremendous potential – to connect schools, the environment, housing and safeguarding services for example, all to improve health outcomes.
In relation to commissioning services the Forum make the following point:
The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed the concept of youth friendly services, emphasising that services that provide young people with good experiences are more likely to be effective and used. Based upon this, clear quality criteria for adolescent-friendly health services were developed, validated and published by the DH in 2007 – You’re Welcome.
Local authority commissioned drug, alcohol and sexual health services also need to be youth friendly and sensitive to the needs of both young men and women. This means being confidential, in the right place, open at accessible times and well publicised to reduce the stigma of asking for help and encourage young people to seek early advice. Involving young people in the JSNA (such as through Healthwatch, chapter 2) will help local authorities design services around how young people in their areas live their lives, rather than around professional boundaries, and provide a more coordinated approach to prevention and support. The duty on local authorities to provide services and activities to improve young people’s well-being provides another opportunity to integrate health advice into youth settings and other services young people trust.
The Forum recommends that the NHS CB, all clinical commissioning groups and LA commissioners of public health services, commission services in a way that ensures that teenagers are managed in age-appropriate services – either in paediatrics, adult services or dedicated young people’s services – and that a measure of this is included in the NHS Outcomes Framework. All services for teenagers should be commissioned using the quality criteria outlined in You’re Welcome.
From where I stand if these recommendations are taken up by Ministers then young people will be in a much stronger position when it comes to the proper development of effective preventative drug services.