GP Champions for Youth Health

The GP Champs project set out to transform the delivery of health services for young people by creating new links between GPs and local voluntary youth organisations, particularly YIACS. The project aimed to improve:

  • health outcomes and access to services through better investment in early intervention and prevention during adolescence and early adulthood
  • the planning, commissioning and delivery of health services for young people by responding to their views and promoting awareness of the evidence and health needs of young people
  • support for young people through strengthened partnerships and increased referral routes between GPs and specialist voluntary sector youth organisations

The GP Champs project was a partnership between the Association for Young People’s Health (AYPH), the Royal College of General Practitioners’ (RCGP) Adolescent Health Group and Youth Access. It was funded by the Department of Health and Paul Hamlyn Foundation and ran from 2012-2015.

The project, which coincided with the major re-organisation of the NHS’ policy and commissioning structures, brought together a GP with a local voluntary youth organisation in 10 areas across England. The local sites came together through regular joint national learning events, with work in their local areas varying according to the needs and ideas of the young people involved and the take up of ideas by local commissioners,

Locally, the work ranged, for example, from training for GPs on domestic and sexual violence in Newham; weight management programmes for young people in Brighton and Hove to improvements in healthcare for homeless young people in Southampton.

Achievements

The GP Champs project was independently evaluated by Dr Cathy Street and Dr Yvonne Anderson. They concluded that all 10 pilot sites developed work that improved the local health offer to young people. Examples cited included:

  • Two new innovative services commissioned by local CCGs. In Liverpool, funding supported a new GP-led health drop-in service to operate in YPAS - the local YIACS. In South London, funding enabled weekly GP ‘pop up’ clinics to be set up across a further education college’s three sites
  • Funding from local Healthwatches supported young people to produce leaflets for every GP in Sheffield and in Cornwall, young people produced a film and other materials to train GPs

Three key recommendations arose out of the project’s evaluation findings:

  • Primary care is an essential universal service and needs to ensure that there is sufficient focus on improving young people’s access to GPs.
  • The voluntary sector needs to be commissioned to provide health services alongside Primary Care, as the voluntary sector is important in improving access to services for this age group.
  • All GP practices should appoint a champion for young people’s health and look at how they can respond more effectively to young people needs