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New NHS Alliance calls for new solution to child health crisis

January 26, 2017

New NHS Alliance is today calling for a new approach to tackling child health inequalities, in the wake of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health report The State of Child Health, published today.

Whilst agreeing with the call for a reversal in cuts to public health, especially in pharmacy, general practice, school nursing and health visiting, which disproportionally affect child health services, we urge government to consider how a ‘health creating’, rather than an ‘illness preventing’ approach may help.

Health creation is about helping people find their own solutions by giving them back control of their lives. This is complementary to, not a replacement of, traditional calls for legislation and for other policy-led changes to public services.

We call for an investment in good quality asset-based community development in order to understand and work with the knowledge and strengths of the community. This will help us to better understand the causes of the causes of child health problems. Much of this arises from poverty but also from the social isolation and powerlessness felt in our communities.

Chair Heather Henry, who works as a nurse in equal partnership with communities in Salford said:

‘We need to break the vicious cycle of disadvantage by working with the culture of the community instead of always try to change it. We need to understand how maladaptive coping behaviours to stress, such as overeating, smoking and drinking arise and how we address the underlying causes of stress and not just focus on the effects. There is good evidence from NESTA that self-help groups for example can transform people’s lives, alongside existing services. And yet the focus ends up on yet more services and laws.

Rick Stern, National Executive member at New NHS Alliance said:

‘I wonder why the RCPCH does not reference the excellent work done in Scotland, where leaders such as Sir Harry Burns have taken action to rebuild community and tackle the issues as a whole system rather than the piecemeal targeting of smoking, drinking etc separately. It should be a cross government response.’

Mark Robinson, a fellow National Executive member said:

‘You can’t take people’s benefits away, put a cap on earnings, remove social mobility, increase taxation, isolate communities, create tension, reduce services and not expect health to decline. So kicking public health is not the solution and I doubt that the sticking plaster of a few nurses is the solution either.’

David Aynsley, member of the national executive and an expert on children’s human rights said:

‘Often we see that children’s basic rights are overlooked. They need to be listened to. I remember when I was a police sergeant and I helped kids in Camborne to start a street dance group, the TR14ers. I tell you, their antisocial behaviour completely changed, they stopped smoking and their asthma got a lot better too. And do you know, it is still going 12 years later.’

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Notes to editors:

  • For enquiries, please contact: Judy Harris at judyharris15@aol.co.uk  or on 07717 691845
  • New NHS Alliance mission is … ‘to infect the UK health system with wellness’. You can find more information here
  • New NHS Alliance has a goal to make Health Creation and health creating practices a core part of the UK healthcare system alongside a greater focus on prevention. We believe that this is the best way to reduce health inequalities and deliver a sustainable health service. Click here for a short briefing paper on Health Creation.
  • You can find coverage of our Health Creation Action Summit here
  • We intend to publish a ‘Manifesto for the adoption of health creating practices’ in the spring of 2017