Sir Albert Aynsley Green challenges GPs on youth care

Published on Friday, 05 October 2012 12:00
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

Venerated child and youth health advocate, Sir Albert Aynsley Green has called on general practitioners to use their unique place in primary care to aggressively champion the health and social care needs of young people.

Sir Albert delivered the Inaugural Ann McPherson Lecture at the RCGP Annual Primary Care conference in Glasgow. The lecture honours Dr Ann McPherson, who died last year. Sir Albert celebrated Dr McPherson as a tireless health campaigner and founder of websites www.healthtalkonline.org and www.teenagehealthfreak.org, which are dedicated to helping doctors and patients understand each other better.

England's first Children's Commissioner, Sir Albert is Professor Emeritus of Child Health at University College London and a dedicated campaigner for children. He praised GPs and challenged them to set a new benchmark in primary healthcare for children and adolescents.

Sir Albert said there were fantastic young people in the UK but that society's view of them was hostile. GPs' surgeries represented one of the most important settings for young people to be able to safely reach out and seek help, he said.

Sir Albert said it was imperative for GPs to listen to their young patients, especially the most vulnerable and troubled, and to respond by designing appropriate services for them – services which may be well beyond traditional and routine approaches.

Sir Albert said: "Adolescents in particular have unique needs that are important in the context of their trajectory towards adulthood – different from those of either children or adults.

"Generally, though, we must do more across the board in primary care if we are to avoid disastrous health and social care outcomes in the future.

"There are significant issues within the younger population around mental health, alcohol use, bereavement and loss. These are subjects that nobody wants to talk about or address, but we must, because they devastating effects in young lives."

Sir Albert praised the RCGP's work on improving services for children and adolescents through general practice and its training of GPs towards a greater understanding of the needs of young people. He encouraged all healthcare professionals to share examples of best practice.

Source: ©RCGP

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