involving young people in planning

INTRODUCTION

In 2004, the Scottish Executive issued revised advice to Health Boards on consulting the public about service change. 'Informing, Engaging And Consulting The Public In Developing Health And Community Care Policies And Services'1 amended HDL (2002) 422, emphasising the need to inform and engage with the patients and the public before publishing draft plans and proposals for consultation. This prepublic consultation stage was as important as the public consultation itself. Following this advice those preparing the Draft Children and Young People's Health Strategy involved a range of young people's groups and organisations.

Involvement in the development of a strategy is more intensive and time consuming than public consultation on the strategy once drafted. The objective is to gather insights into the experiences and expectations of those involved to inform the development of the strategy, in contrast to offering equal access to the whole population to comment on the draft strategy. Therefore it was decided to consult with a cross-section of groups and organisations representing children and young people, encouraging the involvement of those from "hard to reach" groups including a black community youth group, a lesbian, gay, bi and transsexual project, young people with mental health problems, those who had been in care and others who had been homeless.

Most of the engagement was through small group discussions3. With the younger children, an activity-based approach was adopted, playing a game or drawing a health-related picture. There was one large day workshop attended by over 80 young people drawn from secondary schools and youth groups. The starting point for discussion was usually the concerns and understanding of health issues that the young people had.

Findings

One of the key messages children and young people gave us was that they were often asked for their views on various matters but the services they used did not seem to change as a result. The services were as insensitive to the needs of children and especially to the needs of young people as they were before the consultation. They wanted services to act on the feedback they had been given from previous consultations rather than to be asked again for their views.

Some of the other key points were:

References

1. Informing, Engaging And Consulting The Public In Developing Health And Community Care Policies And Services, Scottish Executive, March 2004

2. Consultation and Public Involvement in Service Change. NHS HDL (2002) 42

3. National Standards for Community Engagement, Communities Scotland, June 2005.