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Parents of disabled children are helping to change health services for the better in their local area, at a time of massive change in the NHS.

A new report from Contact a Family suggests that involving parent carers in the design and delivery of health services saves money and improves the quality of the service.

“Parents have helped find practical solutions to common problems about the health services their children need and use”, says Sheila Davies, Health Manager at Contact a Family. “We know from calls to our helpline and from our research that these are problems that many families with disabled children face.”

The report suggests that this collaborative working is producing improvements to local health services and saving money. The charity is urging providers to see the value of this way of working and to take these examples and replicate them in their areas.

Children with autism often find visiting hospital extremely stressful, which can lead to them refusing medical treatment. Parent carers in Manchester worked with the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital to introduce procedures to make visits less stressful, for example fast tracking children to reduce waiting and having a quiet room to wait in. Feedback from parents showed that they are now more satisfied with the hospital and savings are being made as they don’t have to rebook appointments.

In Kirklees, parents worked with commissioners to improve how children with learning disabilities and mental health issues are being supported though child and adult mental health services (CAMHS).

To download the report – Sharing good practice: parent participation in health settings – click here.

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