Learning disability charity Mencap has welcomed the Government’s announcement of the establishment of an independent group of experts to help develop a new strategy for improving healthcare for children and young people.

The ‘Children’s and Young People’s outcomes strategy’ will focus the health service on improving health results for children, including those needing primary, hospital and urgent care, and children with long-term conditions, according to the Department of Health. The group, The Children’s and Young People’s Forum, which comprises members from local government, the NHS and charities, will hear views from children, parents, carers and wider families as well as health professionals. It will be jointly chaired by Professor Ian Lewis, medical director at the Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, and Christine Lenehan, director at the Council for Disabled Children.

The Forum will carry out a 3-month engagement exercise with stakeholders before submitting its recommendations to the Government later in the year. It will build on work already planned through the Health and Wellbeing Board learning network and the SEN and Disability Pathfinder programme.

Beverley Dawkins OBE, national officer for profound and multiple learning disability at Mencap, said; “The Health Secretary's announcement of a Child Health Outcomes forum represents a real commitment to improving the NHS for disabled children and shows that the Government has taken on board the concerns of the children's sector. “We know from our ‘Death by indifference’ report that due to institutional discrimination in the NHS many people with a learning disability do not get the care they need. We hope that this new initiative will be a positive step in improving children's health services to meet the needs of disabled children and their families. As the NHS goes through many new changes and challenges it is important that the health needs of disabled children are not forgotten.”