The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Million pound grant to help improve healthcare transition for children and young people

24 January 2019

For young people with long term conditions, the transfer from children’s to adult services is a critical time in their lives. The transition can shape a young person’s on-going health and well-being, and ensuring that they have a smooth experience of transition is a project that Leeds Children’s Hospital has been tasked with.

In 2015 a team from the Children’s Hospital, part of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, were awarded funding from the Burdett Trust for Nursing and were able to implement a three year project, working with all 42 of its services that required transition pathways.

In 2018, the Trust was awarded a further £1.3m to continue this work on a national scale. The grant, the biggest ever awarded by the Burdett Trust, will see Leeds Children’s Hospital work collaboratively with NHS Improvement to set up and work with regional teams across the country to highlight their Model of Care for Transition for young people, which other organisations can adapt to meet the needs of their own organisations.

A national network of expert nurses will lead the implementation of transition across defined regions, something that Head of Nursing at Leeds Children’s Hospital, Anne Stanton, believes is key to the project’s success. “It is really important that we get the transition from children’s to adult services right for all of our young people. It is a pivotal part of their healthcare journey and is critical in ensuring that their on-going care is effective and is working in the best way that it can for them and their families. To have a team of specialist nurses working in a structured way, towards one common goal will have a really positive impact on healthcare services and the young people experiencing them up and down the country.”

Leeds Children’s Hospital will aim to build on the work already completed and will lead the implementation of transition across a number of regions.  The project aims to inform and influence services for all young people, aged 11 – 24 years, who have a long term illness which requires movement between services to provide on-going care or monitoring.

Transitioning from children’s to adult services is notoriously difficult for some young people and presents both risk and opportunity in their development. In 2014 the Care Quality Commission (CQC) described a health and social care system that was letting down many young people who are at a time of life where decisions are crucial.

Historically, young people and their families have expressed concerns when transitioning from children’s to adult services, with many not wanting to leave the nurturing environment of children’s services.  Patients and their families have developed an established trust and reliance on health professionals, with many patients having known them for most of their life.

At Leeds Teaching Hospitals there has been a gradual change of ethos in care. Teenagers and young people are now working much more closely with health professionals who are now seeking their opinions in order to improve practice.  The initial project run by the hospital in 2015 was commended as an area of good practice by the CQC as part of a visit in 2016.  Now in its third year, the project is seeing real improvements to patient care and experience, with some case studies showing dramatic improvements in health outcomes.

Dr Yvette Oade, Acting Chief Executive at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “I’m extremely proud to see the team from Leeds Children’s Hospital leading on a national project, and one that is so important for young people across the whole of the UK. The fantastic work that they have already completed stands them in good stead to continue this vital work. It will see a specialist team working together to ensure that the transition for young people is one that works for them and encourages them to take control of their health and be more involved in key decision making.”

Shirley Baines, Chief Executive at the Burdett Trust for Nursing added: “The initial piece of work carried out by Leeds Children’s Hospital was impressive and saw some great results. We’re really pleased to play a part in enabling them to continue and progress this initiative which is really vital to not only children and young people but also to the staff who care for them and their families - all of whom will benefit from this work.”