Aims The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child enshrines the right of Children and Young People (CYP) to say what they think and have their opinions considered. The NHS is increasingly embracing patient engagement in healthcare but despite CYPs making up 25% of our population, they are frequently not listened to. Youth forums allow CYPs to discuss issues, engage with decision makers and influence the provision of services. This aligns with our Trust’s vision to engage with local CYPs and spurred an initiative to work in partnership with them to:
Provide information about local services
Encourage two-way feedback between clinicians and young people
Co-create a CYP Forum for 11–17 year olds to ensure local services meet their needs.
Methods To recruit a diverse membership, we organised an engagement event for young people in the area. The evening consisted of a marketplace with stalls focused on a variety of CYP priorities and ended with a facilitated group discussion. The event was advertised through local schools, youth clubs and health services. Attendees received a certificate of participation, a voucher and refreshments were provided. Feedback was collected throughout the evening. At the end, those interested in joining the forum could indicate so on their exit form.
Results Over 65 young people attended the recruitment event and interacted with a wide range of health professionals including doctors, nurses, medical students, commissioners, managers and young peer mentors. In their feedback, young people expressed a desire for the forum to have a practical focus with interactive workshop-style meetings. Key areas of interest included: mental health, sexual health, school nurses and long-term conditions. Over 50 young people have expressed interest in joining the forum.
Conclusion In a patient-centred NHS, it is essential that we listen to young voices. We engaged with local CYPs and endorsed their right to express their views and be heard. Our forum will provide a platform for young people to influence the design and delivery of local services, thereby ensuring that services are provided which meet their needs.
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