Young people in the Rochdale borough are having
to choose between essential healthcare services
– in a hypothetical exercise as part of a series of ‘Dragon’s Den’ sessions taking place this summer.
Groups of youngsters aged 16-17 are being given
a ‘healthcare commissioning exercise’ by NHS Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group (HMR CCG) as part of
one of their activities to earn a National Citizen Service certificate.
Presented with a budget, a list of health services
and data on local healthcare needs, the teenagers
must decide which services to keep over others.
They also have to deal with an imaginary last-minute directive from central government compelling them to allocate their spending in certain areas.
“The purpose of the exercise is to help young people understand the complexity of decision making within their local NHS,” says Phil Burton, NHS HMR CCG’s Engagement Lead (pictured above with some of the youngsters). “We’ve purposefully designed the exercise so that they have to choose between some services. This is to open up debate about local priorities and the importance and value of different services to different sectors of the community.”
Sixteen-year-old Rachel Oliver is one of the young people to grapple with the tough commissioning decisions. “It was really insightful learning about the NHS and actually noticing things about my local community that I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up,” said Rachel.
“You don’t realise how much thought people put into the decisions that are made on budget cuts and government funding. It made me think about the people that work in the NHS and the decisions they face. It’s a lot of responsibility.”
The groups of youngsters also have to pitch to a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style panel with an idea of a social action campaign that they create, plan and carry out to raise awareness of an issue that is important to them.
“We had to come up with something that we are all passionate about and which affects us all. We really had to pull together as a team,” said Rachel. “Other groups are doing campaigns about issues such as sexual consent and litter. Ours is about breaking down the negative stereotypes of teenagers.”
The ‘Dragon’s Den’ panels take place over the summer and are made up of representatives from local public and private sector organisations. They see pitches from a number of groups who compete for a supplement to the budget for their social action campaign.
NHS HMR CCG’s Deputy Director of Operations, Sandra Croasdale, was on one of the first panels. “I was really impressed with the presentations from all of the groups,” said Sandra. “All the young people involved worked really hard to put together engaging pitches on worthwhile issues at really short notice.”
The exercise is part of the National Citizen Service scheme to help teenagers develop greater self-confidence, self-awareness and responsibility.
“It’s a fun and challenging way for these young people to develop social and communication skills, as well as their ability to work in teams,” said Sandra. “I look forward to seeing their campaigns in action.”