Posted: Sat 25th May 2024

Welsh Royal Colleges urge action on child health

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

The Welsh Royal Colleges Child Health Collaborative (WRCCHC) has written to the First Minister of Wales, urging the government to prioritise child health and support the workforce that cares for them.

The WRCCHC, a coalition of Royal Colleges and professional bodies, aims to enhance focus on necessary support for babies, children, young people, and the healthcare professionals representing them.

The call comes in the wake of alarming reports from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the Academy of Medical Sciences, which highlight a disturbing decline in children’s health.

Health professionals across Wales echo these concerns, witnessing firsthand the adverse effects of poor child health and the disproportionate impact of health inequalities on children.

Major health issues such as infant mortality, obesity, and tooth decay are not only harming the nation’s youngest citizens but also threatening the future economic prosperity of Wales.

Addressing these issues now is crucial to improving the health of future generations and mitigating long-term economic costs.

Dr. Nick Wilkinson, RCPCH Officer for Wales, emphasised the urgent need for change. “We see every day the lasting impact of child health inequalities and the devastating impact of poor child health on the child and their families. Recent figures and reports show that we cannot continue the way we are and there needs to be a change in attitudes and a shift in perspective.”

Dr. Wilkinson continued, “This is why we have convened the Welsh Royal Colleges Child Health Collaborative and have urgently asked the First Minister how his government will improve child health and support the workforce. Together as 20 royal colleges and professional bodies, we want to urgently work with the Welsh government to improve health outcomes.”

Dr. Rowena Christmas, Chair of the RCGP Wales Cymru Board, added, “Societal inequalities are proven to have a negative effect on child health that can persist into adulthood. We have a duty to preserve the health and wellbeing of our children and young people, and as healthy children become healthy adults, there is a strong economic argument for this.”

The collaborative effort by the WRCCHC aims to ensure a coordinated approach to children and young people’s health. Pippa Cotterill, Head of Wales Office at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, stated, “The RCSLT warmly welcomes the launch of the Welsh Royal Colleges Child Health Collaborative. The pandemic has had a huge impact on the lives of children and young people. There has never been a greater need for professional organisations to come together to push for improvements to support for babies, children, and young people in Wales.”

Michelle Moseley, RCN Wales Education and Lifelong Learning Adviser, highlighted the importance of early intervention. “RCN Wales supports a child-centred and children’s rights approach to health and wellbeing services. Early intervention and prevention services can promote health, tackle inequalities, and support the public health agenda. To give children the best start in life, there must be further investment into health visiting and school nursing roles.”

Dr. Bethan Phillips, Co-Chair of the Welsh Division of Clinical Psychology, underscored the foundational importance of good health in childhood. “Good health enables children to reach their physical, cognitive, and emotional developmental milestones, widening their opportunities to engage in education, community, and family life. It forms the foundation of their health and wellbeing in adulthood.”

The letter to the First Minister is endorsed by 20 Royal Colleges and professional bodies, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of General Practitioners, British Dental Association, and Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

The collaborative seeks immediate government action to improve health outcomes for children and support the healthcare workforce in Wales.

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