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'Special Requirements Of Children In Hospital'

One out of four children has had a hospital stay by the age of five. This can be a very distressing and difficult experience for children, who have special requirements when they are admitted to hospital. Not only are they more vulnerable emotionally and reliant on adults, but they also require different equipment, techniques and skills from hospital staff.

Department of Health guidelines 'The welfare of children and young people in hospital' were published in July 1991. They give detailed guidance to Health Authorities (Health & Social Services Boards in Northern Ireland, and Health Boards in Scotland) on the standards which they should require from hospitals in their contracts for child health services. These include parental involvement, play, provision for children with disabilities and special needs, and staff training.

Since 1961, the National Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital (NAWCH, now known as Action for Sick Children) has been working to raise awareness of the needs of sick children and their families. This has been done by representing children's interests in health service planning at local and national level and promoting good practices, as well as providing support to individual parents. In 1985 NAWCH published its Charter for Children in Hospital with the support of the British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing, National Association of Health Authorities and many other professional and voluntary bodies. Action for Sick Children publishes leaflets for parents and children as well as research documents in order to influence and improve the delivery of services to children and young people.

A review, 'Health Services for Children & Young People: A Guide to Commissioners and Providers' was published in 1996, giving practical advice for everyone involved in the provision of health services to children.

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