Hertfordshire and West Essex Joint Forward Plan 2023 - 2028

ICS Priority 1: Give every child the best start in life

ICB Strategic Priority:    Give every child the best start in life

ICB Clinical Priorities:    

Children and young people:

•    Increase school readiness, including an increase in the percentage of children with Free School Meal (FSM) status achieving a good level of development at the end of reception. 
•    Reduce rates of childhood obesity, particularly in areas of higher deprivation
•    Reduced unnecessary A&E attendances and admissions

•    National recommendations to be implemented and linked with quality issues with local providers requiring ICB clinical transformation support.
•    Neonatal urgent care pathways

ICB Challenge:    

There are health concerns linked to social disadvantage, increasing social and emotional difficulties in young children, mapping through to school exclusions (including primary), youth justice entrants and increasing numbers of children with social and communication difficulties.

In Essex 22.3% and in Hertfordshire 20.1% of children aged 4-5 years old are classified as being overweight or obese. This increases to 33.1% in Essex and 30% in Hertfordshire for 10–11-year-olds (2019-20 data).

Emergency hospital admissions for children aged under 18 years are significantly higher in East and North Hertfordshire and rates of A&E attendances are higher in west Essex for children aged under 5 years than the national average. 

There are increasing numbers of children needing crisis intervention, with numbers of children in the care of their local authority and those needing mental health specialist hospital provision increasing.

Expected outcomes:    

Over the next 5 years we want to see improvements in the health of our children and young people, collaborating with our neighbouring partners. Our commitment to this includes the following: 
•    we will tackle health inequalities and promote the prevention of ill health to ensure that all children receive high-quality care and are supported to live a healthy life both physically and emotionally. 
•    we will work together to ensure that children with long term conditions or complex care needs are supported to achieve their fullest potential. 
•    we will change the way we work together to provide care that is easy to access and integrated, which places the child or young person and their family at the heart of our planning. 
•    we will ensure that care is personalised and provided as close to home as possible, recognising the role of the community in children's lives supporting them to achieve their goals.

Governance Groups:    

Herts Children & Young People Commissioning Executive and the Essex Children's Partnership

What our residents say:

Hertfordshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Health and Wellbeing Survey (2021) heard from 11,685 young people aged between 11-19.  The majority of respondents were in school years 7 and 8 (12 years old).  Key findings were as follows:

  • 20.5% of all respondents rated their life satisfaction as low. This statistic was 24.6% for female respondents.

  • 9.4% felt overweight while 9.0% felt underweight.

  • 9.4% felt overweight while 9.0% felt underweight.

  • 36.0% of respondents answered, 'Not sure' or 'No' when asked if they knew how to access support and services for mental health. 64.0% answered 'Yes'.

  • Only 28.5% had achieved a total of 60 minutes or more of physical activity 6 to 7 days of the week (in line with guidance). This statistic was 23.4% for female respondents.

  • 40.8% felt unsafe going out after dark.

The top five worries for those surveyed were: schoolwork, their appearance, their mental health, feeling lonely, issues with friends

Year 1 priority actions

There are ongoing discussions across the ICS to agree the core system deliverables for children services in year 1, however these are our current priority actions:

  1. Empower and enable families with young children to self-care through digital technology (Healthier Together) and drive engagement with the website amongst local clinicians.

  2. Scope the conditions and capabilities of virtual wards for children and young people (CYP), driven by data in relation to need. Develop and test CYP ‘virtual ward’ models that deliver care for patients closer to home to avoid admission and/or support early discharge. Work on asthma and access to epilepsy nurse specialists.

  3. Deliver the updated ‘Saving Babies Lives Care Bundle’ – a package of interventions to reduce stillbirth, neonatal brain injury, neonatal death and pre-term birth.

For further details about key deliverables across the next five years, please refer to pages 25 - 29 of the PDF.

Hertfordshire and West Essex Joint Forward Plan 2023 - 2028

Download the full plan