Headlines: September 1st, 2006

BETTER ACCESS TO HEALTH SERVICES FOR TEENAGERS IN PILOT AREAS

 

Young people in four pilot areas are set to benefit from more accessible health services designed specially for them. The Teenage Health Demonstration Sites Programme has been developed to test ways in which health services can be geared up to be more attractive to teenagers and more receptive to their needs and concerns.

The sites in Bolton, Hackney, Northumberland and Portsmouth will offer special adolescent health advice and information in locations appropriate to young people such as youth clubs and sports centres as a means to target more young people in familiar environments. The scheme is being backed with 3.5 million pounds of Government money.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said partnership approaches would be vital to the success and sustainability of the four pilots. Examples could include working with local football and rugby clubs so trained health advisers would be on hand to give health improvement advice to teenagers during coaching sessions. The scheme was launched at the Reebok Stadium, home of Premiership football club Bolton Wanderers.

Caroline Flint said improving the health and wellbeing of teenagers and getting them interested in their own health was a big challenge. The new programme, she said, would help reach out to adolescents. “Health professionals who are trained to meet the needs of young people will be on hand to address the issues that concern teenagers such as pregnancy, social and emotional development, obesity, drugs and smoking,” the Minister said.

She added, “By gaining a better understanding of teenagers’ needs and concerns, and consolidating our knowledge of what works, we hope to help to improve the public health of teenagers, including those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and those from ethnic minority groups.”

Margaret Clugston, Lead Nurse at the Parallel Young People’s Health Centre in Bolton said the project would be a chance to work creatively in partnership with, for example, Bolton Wanderers and local youth services to support young people to make healthier lifestyle choices and to provide them with better access to community based services.