A young people’s group in Leicester has put its weight behind the public consultation to transform local hospital and maternity services.

The Youth Advisory Board (YAB) was set up by Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) in November last year, with support from Leicester City Council. It comprises young peer supporters from LPT’s child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) as well as representatives from the City Youth Council. These young people, aged between 13 and 21years old, are committed to help shape health and wellbeing services for children and young people across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

The group currently meets weekly via Microsoft Teams, and was keen to focus this week’s agenda on the Building Better Hospitals for the Future public consultation which concerns proposals to spend £450 million on making significant changes to improve care at the three main hospitals in Leicester and at the maternity unit at St Mary’s Hospital, Melton Mowbray.

Representatives from the three local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) who are running the consultation and from University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) outlined their plans to the YAB and invited their feedback. The group was particularly interested in hearing how young people would be supported in the hospital settings and was encouraged to hear that the age limit for children and young people’s services would be extended to 18 years rather than 16. The young people went on to ask questions relating to the potential research and job opportunities that the reconfiguration could bring, and also wanted to hear about how young parents would be supported by maternity services.

The group has pledged to share the consultation survey within their schools and colleges, as well as with friends and peers. They were keen to explore further ways in which they can help the CCGs and health partners ensure that young people’s voices are fed into the consultation.

Emily Robertshaw, Patient Involvement and Experience Manager at LPT, who runs the YAB alongside Bez Martin, Children’s Rights and Participation Manager at Leicester City Council, said: “Over the last ten months, the YAB has contributed to several service improvement projects at LPT, specifically focused on the mental health and wellbeing of young people and digital health resources. The group is passionate about ensuring the quality and future of health services in our region and their participation in this consultation is a reflection of that.”

Nicky Topham, Reconfiguration Programme Director at UHL said: “We really want to encourage young people to share their views with us about the changes we are proposing, which will improve our hospitals for the years to come.

We were blown away by how deeply the YAB had thought about the proposals for Leicester’s hospitals. They have given us an excellent insight into young people’s needs when they’re in hospital, and how to provide an appropriate environment with the right ‘look and feel’ for patients under 18. We are so pleased to be working with the group, and are hugely grateful for their input.”

The Building Better Hospitals for the Future proposals are set to deliver a number of significant changes focused on improving patient care, achieving better patient outcomes, and getting staff all working in the best place to make this happen.

The proposals would provide 139 more hospital beds and change acute and maternity services by moving all acute care to the Leicester Royal Infirmary (in the city centre) and to Glenfield Hospital (on the outskirts of Leicester on Groby Road). Acute care includes patients receiving treatment for severe injury or illness, urgent medical conditions, or during recovery from surgery.

There are a number of ways in which people can share their views on the proposals, and a series of online events is taking place where people can find out more and ask questions. Full details can be found at: www.betterhospitalsleicester.nhs.uk