Objectives To investigate what data are available on the National Health Service (NHS) experience of children and young people (0–24 years), and how their experience compares with that of older patients.
Design and data selection Review of 38 national surveys undertaken or planned between 2001 and 2011, identified by the Department of Health (2010). Detailed analysis performed on the most recent completed surveys covering primary, inpatient and emergency care, and children's services.
Results Patients under 16 were included in 1/38 national surveys, comprising <0.6% of over 10 million respondents. The majority of young people aged 16–24 reported a positive experience of NHS care. However, satisfaction was lower than in older adults. 80.7% of 16–24 year olds reported good emergency department care, compared with 89.2% of older adults (Emergency Department Survey 2008, N=49 646, OR=0.51, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.55, p<0.001). In the Inpatient Survey 2009, 86.5% of 16–24 year olds reported good care, compared with 92.7% of older adults, (N=69 348, OR=0.51, 95% CI 0.45 to 0.57, p< 0.001). Satisfaction with primary care was reported by 83% of 18–24 year olds, compared with 90% of older adults (GP Patient Survey 2009–10 (N=2 169 718, OR=0.52, 95% CI 0.51 to 0.53, p<0.001). Young people also reported a poorer experience than older adults for their perceived involvement in care, having confidence and trust in their doctor and being treated with respect and dignity.
Conclusions Despite the current focus on services for young people and the importance of patients' views in improving services, the voice of under 16s is not included in most national surveys. Despite high levels of overall satisfaction, young adults report a poorer experience of care than older adults.
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Funding This research was carried out as part of a MD (Res) thesis, for which DH was supported by the Department of Health. The research was carried out independently of Department of Health influence. The findings and opinions expressed are the authors' own and are not endorsed by the Department of Health.
Competing interests DH was employed as clinical advisor at the Department of Health, March 2009 to March 2011.