Pupils join NHS bosses to tackle key health issues

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Persuasive pupils from a South Tyneside school have joined forces with NHS leaders to tackle some of the thorniest health problems facing the country.

The students from Mortimer Community College in South Shields were challenged to find new ways to raise awareness of key health issues like alcohol, self-care and mental health – and stepped up to the mark with a series of proposals.

This was a tough challenge for the students.

Dr Matthew Walmsley, a GP and chair of the South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group

The scheme brought together ten 12 and 13 year-olds with leaders from NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which plans and buys most healthcare services for the NHS in the borough.

The budding communicators impressed leading NHS figures with their range of creative ideas when they came together at the CCG’s Monkton Hall base in Jarrow.

Dr Matthew Walmsley, a local GP and CCG chairman, said: “The pupils came up with some excellent ideas to spread the word about some of the most difficult issues facing the NHS and patients alike.

“This was a tough challenge for the students to take on, but it was good to see them getting to grips with some of the issues the NHS is facing.”

Stan Smith was part of a group of students looking at how to promote self-care.

Stan, 12, of Westoe, said: “I suggested some health messages and posters so that elderly people know how to get help if they can’t get to a GP.”

Caitlin Merry, 13, of Simonside, said: “It was good to learn about different illnesses, take a tour of Monkton Hall and see what the CCG does to keep the NHS running locally.”

Liam Maxwell, 13, of Temple Park Road, said: “I enjoyed learning about all the facts and statistics so that we could come up with creative things to do with health issues.”

Dr Walmsley added: “The CCG is led by local doctors and nurses, who are close to their patients and well placed to see how local services can be improved. With an ageing population, changing expectations and more people with long-term conditions, the NHS needs to find new ways to deliver services, so it is useful to involve the next generation in finding solutions for the future.”

Lynne Jobling, senior teacher at Mortimer Community College, said: “The students rose to the challenge as we knew they would. They showed initiative, creativity and excellent team work skills as well as a maturity beyond their years.

“We invited their parents to the final presentation as well as representatives from the STCCG and our head teacher Claire Mullane. The CCG has done some excellent work in our school and it’s lovely that they are taking the time to support young people in this way.”