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Children and young people

Key topics in CYP nursing

Key topics of interest relating to babies, children, young people, their families and those supporting them.

Health inequalities

The UK has seen a significant increase in child poverty in recent years impacting on the development and health outcomes of generations. A greater awareness of the difficulties and disparities families from different races and cultures face in gaining equal access, treatment and health outcomes is also highlighting the impact this is having on babies, children, young people and their families. The resources below highlight key findings and the need for change:

The mental wellbeing of babies, children, young people and their families

In recent years there has been significant increase in society’s and health professional’s understanding of the importance of mental health. Rates of eating disorders, anxiety and gender identity issues continue to make the headlines. However, it is also important for Nurses and nursing Support Workers to develop an understanding of how experiences of childhood and adolescence have short, medium and longer term impacts of the mental and physical health of the population. The resources and information below may be useful in developing this understanding:

The mental health needs of young people with learning disabilities are overlooked despite an increased risk

Children and young people with learning disabilities are much more likely to develop mental health problems yet their needs are too often overlooked warns a new report by the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition.

Overshadowed finds that children and young people with learning disabilities are more than four times more likely to develop a mental health problem than average. This means that 14% or one in seven of all children and young people with mental health difficulties in the UK will also have a learning disability.

See: Overshadowed. The mental health needs of children and young people with learning disabilities 

Disabled children

The Disabled Children’s Partnership has identified a £434 million funding gap for social care support for disabled children and their families. The survey of 3,400 parents found:

  • only 4% of parents say they receive the right support to care for their disabled children safely
  • 53% of parents have been forced to give up a paid job to care for their disabled child
  • more than a third (37%) of parent carers say their disabled child has missed school or college because the staff or services are not available to support them
  • a third (33%) of parents/ carers say their disabled child has been in unnecessary extra pain because the right equipment, doctor or health service hasn’t been available. 

See: Give it back - a film clip produced by the Disabled Children’s Partnership.


The challenges in workforce, increased poverty and families facing health inequalities are resulting in an increase in safeguarding referrals and serious case reviews. Key documents have been published around this topic and can be found below. Responses and action plans continue to be developed at a national and local level in response to these publications:

Adolescent Health

Young people continue to face challenges both in terms of how they have experienced the key years of transitioning from childhood to adulthood as well as disruption to key services such as mental and sexual health provision as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adolescence is a key developmental stage of life meaning that young people have differing needs from those of the child and adult population. How, what and when young people access services varies considerably between and within services which causes confusion and disparity for many young people. Differences in age ranges of service provision between acute and mental health provision is just one example of this. We also know that many specialist services that exist for children and young people to support with specific conditions are not reflected in adult service design or delivery.

The resources below highlight some of the challenges and actions that impact on young people’s health and wellbeing:

Meeting the medical needs of Children and Young People in Education and Community settings

The Royal College of Nursing has received enquiries following the publication of ‘Meeting health needs in educational and other community settings. A guide for nurses caring for children and young people’. The meeting medical needs document is currently being reviewed. The new version will include case studies and principles of delegation rather than task specific lists which previously appeared in the appendix of the document. It will also reflect ongoing changes in the needs of children, young people, their families as well as the staff, providers and systems commissioning and delivering provision.

Clinical advice and guidance regarding ‘Effective (Deep) suctioning’ and appropriate delegation should be principally sought from the following:

Page last updated - 21/06/2023