Hospital Dr News

Children’s hospital survey finds care inequalities for those with specific needs

Children with physical or learning disabilities, or mental health needs reported poorer experiences of care children’s hospitals than those without.

This is the headline finding of the first CQC survey in England to get views of children and teenagers about their hospital care. They show that 87% of children and young people and 88% of parents or carers rated their overall experience as seven or above out of ten – the highest scores that are available.

Nationally, the results from the 137 acute NHS trusts took part in the survey.

The responses were less positive across all areas that involved children with mental health conditions, learning or physical disabilities, compared to the children and parents or carers of children without these conditions.

The results show that 45% of parents and carers of children with physical disabilities and 49% of parents and carers of children with mental health conditions or learning disabilities thought staff were aware of their child’s medical history before caring for them or treating them, compared with 59% for parents or carers of children without these conditions

Less than half (49% of parents and carers of children with a physical disability, and 48% of those with children with mental health needs or a learning disability) felt that staff definitely knew how to care for their child’s individual needs. This compares to 72% of parents and carers of children without these conditions.

Overall, however, the picture is more positive with the overwhelming majority of patients and parents saying they felt safe and listened to.

Almost three quarters (73%) of children and young people who have had surgery or a procedure received explanations about what had happened in a way that was easy for them to understand.

Most 8-15 year olds told us staff always listened to them (78%), staff talked to them when they had worries (75%) and that staff spoke to them in a way they could understand (82%).

Professor Edward Baker, CQC’s Deputy Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “Nationally, most young people and children said they were happy with their care, are able to understand the information given by staff following an operation or procedure, and that they have confidence staff are doing everything they can to manage their pain.

“However, there is marked variation between the results from individual hospitals. We have now inspected the majority of children’s hospital services in England, and those inspections have also shown marked variation in the quality of care provided.”

“Hospitals should examine the results of this survey, together with our inspection reports and take steps to improve their care where necessary.”

Some of the findings that indicated relatively poorer quality of care include:

– 41% of parents and carers felt staff were not always aware of their child’s medical history before treating them.

– 43% of 12 to 15 year olds told us that they were not fully involved in decisions about their care.

– Less than half the children between 8-15 (45%) liked the food on offer.

Professor Baker added: “What is particularly worrying is that children with physical, learning or mental health needs are telling us they have poorer experiences. This needs to be addressed straight away so that services meet the needs of all children, irrespective of any disability or specific need.”


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