This project will evaluate how integrating care across health, education and social care by creating ‘systems’, can improve the health and well-being of children and young people and make it easier to plan young people’s services.
In 2016, NHS organisations and local councils joined together into Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) in order to better plan, coordinate and prioritise health and care needs for their populations. In some areas, where collaboration was particularly close, these partnerships have evolved into Integrated Care Systems (ICSs).
This project aims to map out who is doing what and where, what the key elements are to understanding how effective integrated systems for children and young people work and whether they improve health outcomes.
The project will use a variety of methods to do this including:
• working with stakeholders within the health system, analysis of published health and social care plans
• surveys with all the 44 STP/ICS areas and semi-structured interviews with a subset of 15 leaders of these systems
• systematically review published literature on systems for children and young people
• hold knowledge sharing and gathering workshops
• analyse how routinely collected data on health outcomes for children and young people have changed over time.
This evaluation will particularly focus on the health outcomes for children for whom socioeconomic disadvantage could impact their health.
This project also offers the opportunity to examine the impact of Covid-19 on children’s systems in England. Covid-19 has had a relatively small impact upon children’s health as direct result of infection but the response to covid is having dramatic consequences for their health and well-being in others. The covid response appears to have increased variation in children’s systems, causing some systems to integrate more rapidly, and resulting in delays in others.
The results of this project will help identify potential ways to improve children and young people’s health outcomes by changing the ways that STPs/ICSs work and plan. Our findings will guide policy makers and local authorities to make decisions that will improve systems and outcomes for children and young people. Through our evaluation we hope to enable (child) public health services to position themselves within a larger interconnected and complex system of child health.
Research into effective and equitable public health systems relating to the health of children and young people, and their families is a key focus of our work, and thus this project is a priority area of inquiry.