The National Health Service (NHS) England Youth Forum
Article submitted by Siwan Davies from the British Youth Council, a Eurodesk UK Partner.
The NHS Youth Forum was established in 2014 in partnership with the British Youth Council and NHS England. Now in its third year, the NHS Youth Forum is comprised of a diverse group of 25 young people from across England aged between 14 and 23. Every member has a strong interest in healthcare, either because they’re living with long-term or life-threatening illness, with a physical or mental disability, because they’re a young carer, or because they’re interested in a career in healthcare. Therefore, forum members use their own perspectives and experiences of healthcare services to highlight good practice, and develop suggestions for improvement in areas which may need it.
Since its inception, the NHS Youth Forum has carried out focused project work on chosen health themes, having canvassed the opinion of thousands of young people via the British Youth Council and the UK Youth Parliament. These themes have included raising awareness of young people’s rights in healthcare, young people’s mental health, the issues of transition between paediatric and adult care, and how local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and patient participation groups (PPGs) can listen to and include the voices of young people. The current theme chosen by the forum is that of “prevention”, and they have been consulting with young people across England working towards a campaign based on the hashtag #yourhealthinyourhands.
A recent external evaluation of the NHS Youth Forum’s work by researchers from the University of Hertfordshire concluded that its members “were not only very capable of being involved in decision-making, but that they were highly motivated and committed to the giving of their personal time and to ensuring that the youth voice was represented and heard”, and that the NHS Youth Forum “appears to be a unique and inspirational model that has the potential to be widely and internationally recognised”.
 Whiting, L., Roberts, S. Meager, G., Petty, J. (2016) An examination of the NHS England Youth Forum. Final report. University of Hertfordshire: Hatfield