Welcoming the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) assessment of provision of care for children under-18 on adult wards, the Commissioner said the safety and protection of children is always her paramount consideration.
“It is of particular concern to me that when children are receiving care and treatment in hospital settings this is provided in an appropriate and safe environment for them,” said Mrs Lewsley-Mooney.
“I have raised the issue of children being treated in adult wards on a number of occasions and I’m closely monitoring how the current Review of Paediatric Care, being carried out by the DHSSPS, will address the need to ensure that children and young people are not treated in adult settings.
The Commissioner said that while current hospital practices present real challenges in tackling this, the fact that there is no agreed age up to which a child can be treated as a child, not an adult, is a major issue. She endorsed the RQIA recommendation that regional guidance on the admission of children to adult hospital wards should be developed.
“When I visited the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children, for example, I was informed of 14-year-olds being referred to adult accident and emergency and adult wards because they were too old to be admitted to the Children’s hospital” said Mrs Lewsley-Mooney.
The Commissioner welcomed some of the good practice and innovative ideas in certain areas which may limit the negative experiences of these children, but is today requesting an urgent response from the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Edwin Poots, which should address how he plans to reduce the number of children being treated in adult care settings.
“The Minister now needs to transform the care for the thousands of children who should not, and indeed must not, be cared for in the wrong setting” Said Mrs Lewsley – Mooney “I want to hear how he is going to take the RQIA recommendations forward in terms of listening to the experiences of children on adult wards and ending variations of practice both across and within Trusts.”
Notes to Editor