Delivering a Healthy Future: An Action Framework for Children and Young People's Health in Scotland

Delivering a Healthy Future sets out a structured programme of actions, drawn primarily from existing policy initiatives and commitments, to improve services for children and young people in Scotland.


1. Children and young people are a vital part of the Scotland of today and all of our nation's tomorrow. Safeguarding their health and well-being during the vulnerable and formative years of life is a crucial and shared responsibility of a civilised society. Beyond that, the way in which we nurture them through childhood and adolescence into adult life will have a major impact on the future health of our nation and on its prosperity and stability.

2. Across Scotland much good work is already underway in respect of child health. Much more still remains to be done if we are to address not only the patterns of childhood illness that continue to be seen in a modern society but also the behaviours, attitudes and life-circumstances which impact on our children and young people and threaten their prospects of sustained good health.

3. Clearly health and well-being are shaped by a wide range of influences, circumstances and services both within and well beyond the established healthcare sector. Education and social care, good nutrition and healthy life-styles, environmental improvements and initiatives to address inequality and disadvantage all play a vital role in promoting and protecting children and young people's health. These activities involve a range of Government Departments, Local Authorities and the voluntary sector whose input is a vital influence on the broader context within which this Action Framework must be delivered.

4. Given the crucial role of other sectors in the overall child health agenda and delivering improved outcomes for children more generally, the implementation of the Action Framework will need to take place in the context of effective inter-agency working as set out in the Scottish Executive's requirement for local authorities and their planning partners, including healthcare providers, to produce Integrated Children's Service Plans which cover children's services, child health, children's social work, school education and youth justice. The proposals in Getting it Right for Every Child will further strengthen joint working across all services for all children.

5. It is however equally important that the healthcare and health services which we provide for our children and young people are planned, delivered and developed in those ways that best treat illness and foster health and well-being. To that end, in Delivering For Health, the Minister for Health and Community Care reaffirmed the commitment to the development of an Action Framework for Children and Young People's Health in Scotland designed to bring together in a single, focused and accessible format the principal challenges facing the provision of children and young people's health services and the actions required from the NHS in Scotland and its partners in healthcare provision.

6. This Action Framework, developed by the Children and Young People's Health Support Group ( Annex 1), sets out a structured programme of actions, drawn primarily from existing policy initiatives and commitments. The Action Framework cannot capture every recommendation emerging from the many strands of work that have been undertaken but provides those who commission and deliver services which impact on child health with clear guidance regarding those actions and service developments which offer the best, most realistic and most immediate opportunities for delivering real change and improvement. Inevitably different areas of Scotland are at different stages of development but the Action Framework will allow the flexibility for key actions to be prioritised according to local circumstances.

7. The delivery of the Action Framework presents a major challenge. To support that delivery process the Action Framework includes progress measures for each element of the programme which will act as markers of change and improvement and will allow progress to be monitored and managed over time. The ultimate outcome must be a pattern of support, intervention and service delivery that meets the needs of current and future generations of children and young people in ways that are:

  • targeted to the health challenges of the 21st century
  • based on the best available evidence
  • designed to protect and promote health as well as treating disease
  • capable of addressing the needs of children who may be vulnerable or at risk
  • centred on children, young people and their families
  • delivered consistently and equitably throughout the country

and are fully integrated with the more wide-ranging cross-sectoral actions necessary to create health in body, mind and behaviour.

8. Scotland's national health has rightly been a cause for concern and a focus for action in recent years. Progressive improvement in the health of our population will be dependent on a range of activities designed to treat disease and to promote health. At the heart of these there needs to be a sustained and coordinated commitment to work towards ensuring the best of health for the next generation. Therein lies the most optimistic approach to delivering our future health as a nation.

9. In the following sections this Action Framework sets out the challenges; emphasises the importance of working together and defines key elements of a health service fit for children and young people in Section 1 - The Way Forward; and sets out the actions required in Section 2 - Improving Health Services and Section 3 - Supporting Change if we are to achieve the goal of Delivering a Healthy Future for our children and young people.

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