A healthy childhood is the foundation for a long and healthy life. Yet even in today’s modern world, children still face major health challenges:
- poor mental health – 10% of children in the UK have a diagnosable mental health condition; suicide is the leading cause of death in young people aged 16-19
- rising rates of so-called “rare” diseases which present multiple problems requiring multiple procedures, accounting for 30% of paediatric hospital admissions
- extremely pre-term births, with the risk of serious long-term effects such as cerebral palsy, limited independence and mental ill-health;
- cancer, which remains one of the most common causes of death in children of all ages
- rising rates of obesity and type-2 diabetes, with a worldwide epidemic of early chronic disease which threatens a limited health resource pool.
The east of England is the only region in the UK without a purpose built children’s hospital to effectively support over 1.5 million children and young people in a large regional network.
I don’t know of any serious physical illness which doesn’t have a psychological aspect to it, or of any severe and enduring mental health condition that doesn’t have physical elementsSri Velandy, Consultant paediatric liaison psychiatrist, Cambridge University Hospitals and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trusts
Regionally, our children and young people’s services are under significant pressure and are becoming more fragile by the day.
Much of the existing estate at Addenbrooke’s is aging and becoming unfit for purpose. A lack of space and accessible services means children, their families and staff are living and working in cramped conditions, with no dedicated space available for teenagers.
Delivering regional and national specialist care in ageing facilities, which are not purpose-built for children, brings additional challenges and takes up more staff time, preventing our dedicated teams from being as efficient and innovative as they could otherwise be.
There is rising demand and increasing acuity of young patients who require inpatient care for mental health services. We want to provide greater provision of specialist treatments in the community, including crisis support and step down options, to deliver better mental health paediatric care closer to home.
Finally, there is a need to re-provide the nationally commissioned child and adolescent mental health beds, currently accommodated on CPFT’s Ida Darwin Hospital site, just 10 minutes from Addenbrooke’s.
In 2018 the health secretary Matt Hancock announced he was committing £100 million in public money to the project.
To make this work we now have to attract more than £100 million in philanthropic funding.