Cambridge Children’s Hospital is the first of its kind to treat the whole child, seamlessly integrating mental and physical healthcare, and thus helping to re-conceive child health provision and disease prevention, starting at birth. In an article for the University of Cambridge’s Alumni magazine, Professor Tamsin Ford and Professor David Rowitch discuss how the new hospital and on-site research centre are set to transform the way we treat – and prevent – mental and physical illness in children. Both Tamsin and David sit on the Joint Delivery Board for Cambridge Children’s Hospital.
A 5,000m² research institute, made up of six discrete but closely connected and highly collaborative research centres, will sit at the heart of Cambridge Children’s Hospital.
“The seeds of many long-term health conditions that people suffer in middle and old age often lie in childhood and adolescence,” says Tamsin, who is Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the university. She cites a particularly alarming statistic – that if you have a severe mental illness, your life expectancy is reduced by 15 to 30 years.
Today’s young people are tomorrow’s parents
she says. “So, the benefit they get from better research and treatments and early interventions will transmit to the next generation.”
David, who is the university’s Head of Department of Paediatrics, says a new hospital model is much needed and one that will be a transformation in culture. “Cambridge Children’s will harness the University’s extraordinary expertise to fulfil both a worldwide and an NHS need to tackle the mental health crisis in young people. And it will be holistic, recognising that you can’t disassociate body and mind.”
Cambridge Children’s is an incredible opportunity to do things differently, he believes. “We need a new way to deal with healthcare challenges today, because it’s clear the old ways aren’t working.”