Voice matters

We're a group of five youth authors, aged 11-19 and from around the UK, who have helped to write this chapter, along with nearly 900 children and young people who shared their views and helped to choose priorities.

RCPCH workers have been busy going all over the UK over the last two years to find out “what knowledge, skills and attitudes doctors need when working with children and young people” and “what would revolutionise care.”

This chapter tells you what we have found out!

“Paediatrics 2040 has given me hope for the future of paediatrics, and I feel confident that future generations of young people will have better experiences with healthcare.” RCPCH &Us Youth Author

What’s been done for Paediatrics 2040?

RCPCH workers have…

  • Reviewed feedback from experiences of 182 children and young people linked to being looked after or having diabetes, epilepsy or asthma
  • Spoken to 489 children and young people their ideas about knowledge, skills and attitudes for doctors of the future
  • Worked with 95 young people about revolutionising care
  • Discussed the impact of COVID-19 with 60 children and young people
  • Had ideas from 15 young artists about the hospitals and doctors of the future
  • Led workshops with 23 young people in the nations on topics including mental health, respect and being open and non-judgmental
  • Supported 5 young people to review all the findings to create the voice matters infographics (that’s us!)
  • Worked with 10 young people to get ready for the launch of Paediatrics 2040
  • Worked with ages 6 – 25 and all backgrounds all over the UK

“I feel that I was able to see many different points of view and hear many different experiences of paediatrics. The data showed me that young people in the UK, whilst being different in many ways, prioritise the same things when it comes to paediatrics.” RCPCH &Us Youth Author

What we found out

Here are the results that we looked at with the RCPCH workers:

In total over 3,000, views and hopes for supporting the best possible paediatric services and staff of the future were shared by children and young people.

They were asked: “what knowledge, skills and attitudes do doctors need when working with children and young people” with the results showing the top three in the UK:

  • Respectful, kind, supportive and friendly
  • Good medical conduct
  • Communication

Each nation had a different set of responses

“I think it is really vital to ensure that Paediatrics in 2040 improves from how it is now. I wanted to support this change and help influence how children and young people are cared for in 20 years.” RCPCH &Us Youth Author

What we did next

We had four different sessions to look at the results. These were all done virtually because of COVID-19 – one in a school in Derry/Londonderry, one with young people in Neath Port Talbot, one in Girvan and one where we got together with RCPCH &Us too.

We all looked at what the results told us – the total numbers, the ideas and then our feelings and ideas about the results. You can find out more about the results in the Data and evidence section.

From these sessions the young people felt that the following four topics were important.

Introducing our infographics

From this and between all four sessions, we decided the three most important things for the Paediatrics 2040 project to think about how to make services the absolute best they can be for children and young people:

  • Mental health awareness and understanding
  • About how staff work with us, including things like the words they use, the way they talk to us and how things are explained or understood
  • The impact of COVID-19 on our mental health

We thought about what the results meant in these areas, what good should look like and what doctors or services could do – and then had a think about how best to tell people what they need to know.

We decided to make infographics with all the important information. We hope you like them! Please view, download and share them with your friends, teams and managers. Think about what this means for you, what you think good looks like and what actions you can take now, next year and into the future.

We made this 10-minute film for the Paediatrics 2040 launch event on 26 February 2021 where we explain more about these three top issues.

Mental health (pre-pandemic)

Children and young people want good mental health and wellbeing services and for paediatric services to have good knowledge and understanding about mental health disorders, stress, and how to best support emotional wellbeing.

In 2040 children and young people would like all paediatricians to have mental health as part of all their training, for more research to be undertaken to understand mental health conditions better especially in children and young people who have life-long conditions, or who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/ questioning (LGBTQ+) and Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

The main thing for paediatricians is to remember that everyone has mental health and that it should be seen as equally as important as physical health. We know that sleep, exercise and eating healthily is important to good physical health. We need to be encouraging things that are as important for good mental health.

We want everyone to pro-actively remove the stigma around mental health. We would like more to be done to enable children and young people to be as open and safe as possible when discussing mental health and that paediatricians should discuss mental health with all children and young people. We believe that early intervention can make a difference.

Read and print our infographic on Paediatrics 2040 and Mental Health

Working with us

Children and young people want paediatric services to be respectful, kind, supportive and friendly to them.

We want paediatricians to be friendly, kind, respectful, supportive, show empathy and understanding to our situation, show professionalism and be child and young person centred.

We discussed what makes the best paediatricians and know that many already show these attitudes and skills. In 2040 we want to be sure that children and young people continue to have the right paediatricians to care for them.

The main thing for paediatricians is to continue to listen to children and young people, trust what they are saying and involve them within their care. We want paediatricians to be interested and know about current issues that children and young people face. We also want paediatricians to have experience in working with a range of children and young people during their training. It would be great if paediatric services link with other services such as schools, play and youth workers and other professionals to support us.

Read and print our infographic on Paediatrics 2040 and Working With Us

Looking at the impact of COVID-19 on mental health

Children and young people want paediatric services to learn from COVID-19 and ensure that virtual environments are appropriate for children and young people, including approachability, confidentiality, and keeping them engaged through various means. Also that mental health services are available after the pandemic to support children and young people.

We know that COVID-19 has had a massive impact on everyone including children and young people. Though it’s been a challenging time, there has been lots of good learning for the future.

The main thing for paediatric services is to remember that children and young people experienced a dramatic change to their lives and it’s important that they aren’t forgotten about within communication or important health messaging. We want to ensure that this is thought about in the future and that the messages are child and youth friendly.

COVID-19 has seen the development of more virtual appointments. In 2040 it is possible that technology would have developed further. It’s important that paediatricians develop ways to ensure children and young people are kept safe, feel comfortable to talk using technology and that confidentiality, especially when having an appointment from your home, is well supported.

The internet is a great source of supportive information and online services. We feel that there is a lot of choice and sometimes we are unsure about which places are best for us, especially when talking about mental health. Sometimes we miss the information because it isn’t put in the best place for us to see it.

We discussed ways in which paediatric services could use the internet better.

These involved using platforms that young people access, reassuring us that they are safe to use and promoting them to us though places like school.

We have done lots of work on COVID-19 and if you would like to read more then please visit COVID-19 &Us.

Read and print our infographic on Paediatrics 2040, Mental Health & COVID-19

RCPCH &Us is a network for children, young people, parents and carers – created to actively seek and share their views to influence and shape policy and practice. It’s a programme at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Our work includes projects, events, activities and sharing news to educate, collaborate, engage and change services for the better.

Thank you!

We want to say thank you for reading our ideas about Paediatrics 2040. We know that there is lots of other things to think about but it’s been great to think 20 years ahead and plan for the future. We hope that these ideas help you to know what children and young people think.

We think you are lifesavers and the NHS is the best invention of the 20th century and we want to help you if we can (some children and young people even made a video!).

“It’s a really important project because it is vital that we look after the next generation with high-quality care to ensure that they are looked after.” RCPCH &Us Youth Author

There are thousands of children and young people all over the UK that would love to help you and the NHS to keep being amazing. As a health professional you can sign up for the RCPCH Engagement Collaborative, and as a child, young person or family member you can sign up to our RCPCH &Us network.

RCPCH &Us Youth Authors

RCPCH &Us:  Anwen, Bryn, Demi, Isobel & Sashank with support for the launch from Noor and Toby

RCPCH Children and Young People’s Engagement team: Emma Sparrow, Alli Guiton, Emma Hosking