A new plan was launched at the Greater Manchester Health and Care Board which will help hundreds of thousands of children and young people in Greater Manchester to get better health and care to improve their development and fulfil their potential.

The four-year plan maps out how agencies in the region will work closer together to make sure local services offered from before birth through to adulthood, will give every child across Greater Manchester the best possible start in life.

The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (GMHSC Partnership) has worked with children, families, doctors, academic experts, schools and the voluntary and social enterprise sector to develop the Children and Young People Health and Wellbeing Framework.

The plan aims to ensure that there is support during every step of a child’s journey. It is based on ten key commitments that have been developed with children and young people themselves. They include better mental health, improved support for those with long term conditions, more integrated early years services and better support to schools and colleges to promote good health.

The framework has been produced in response to statistics showing Greater Manchester is one of the toughest places in the country to grow-up, with higher rates of poverty, poor physical and mental health, high hospital admissions, lower levels of physical activity and lower education attainment.

For example, in 2016/17 hospital admissions for asthma in central Manchester were over twice the average in England.

The launch of the plan coincided with National Children’s Day 2018 on Sunday, March 13 promotes the importance of a healthy childhood.

Jon Rouse, Chief Officer at the GMHSCP, said:

“Growing up in Greater Manchester can be really challenging. For a city region of Greater Manchester’s status and ambition it isn’t acceptable that too many of our children and young people are still being prevented from fulfilling their potential and their ambitions because of poor health. Devolution in Greater Manchester has given us the opportunity to transform this situation and make sure the region is one of the best places to grow up. We want this plan to give every child the best start in life, wherever they live and whatever background they are from.”

The immediate roll out of the plan will concentrate on three key priority areas:

Improving the mental health of all children

A pilot is already underway in 31 primary and secondary schools delivering mental health and wellbeing training to build confidence, coaching in key life skills such as growing self-esteem, lessons to improve creative thinking skills and coping strategies for challenges. The plan is to roll-out this programme across Greater Manchester.

The plan also includes improvements in perinatal mental health services, eating disorder services and crisis care.

Improving every child’s early years and ensuring that they are ready to start school and achieve their potential aged 5

A targeted programme is already underway to improve oral health in children under five in Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale and Salford. This programme was launched because in some areas more than 50% of children starting school had at least one tooth decayed, missing or filled. The programme involves health visitors delivering toothbrush and toothpaste packs during visits to families.

The plan also includes work on reducing smoking in maternity, more targeted support for children falling behind, and improved care for children with complex needs.

Reducing avoidable admissions to hospital for children with conditions such as asthma, epilepsy and diabetes.

During summer 2018 there will be a trial of initiatives to reduce these unnecessary hospital admissions, such as faster access to hospital clinics, an established phone line from GPs to hospital consultants for quick advice on whether someone needs to go to hospital, improved community nursing teams and getting GPs and hospitals to work together to treat children in the community.

Charlotte Underwood is a 4th year medical student at the University of Manchester and also a young person representative on the Children’s Health and Wellbeing Board, whose work is supported by the framework.

She said: “It has been amazing to see how much the board has achieved in such a short space of time. Engagement has been a core feature in the first year with the framework and objectives have been tested by children, young people and their families.With the new opportunities devolution brings, hopefully Greater Manchester’s children will be supported to grow-up to be healthy adults.”

Lord Peter Smith, Chairman of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “We want every child in Greater Manchester to have the best start in life. Every child should grow up in a safe environment that nurtures development, keeps them safe from harm and that provides them with access to education and services that enable them to achieve their aspirations.”

Work later in 2018 and 2019 will include further projects with schools to improve the mental and physical health of children, improving the transition from children’s to adult services and improving services for children at risk and those with special needs.

The plan supports the work of the Children’s Health and Wellbeing Board, which was set-up to provide oversight for the delivery of improvements to children’s health and health care in Greater Manchester, whilst strengthening links with local authority service improvements and the work of partner organisations.

To view the Children and Young People framework, go to http://www.gmhsc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Childrens-Health-and-Wellbeing-Framework-6a-11.05.18.pdf 

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