Accessibility Page Navigation
Style sheets must be enabled to view this page as it was intended.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

CR114. Bridging the Gaps: Health Services for Adolescents

Price: £10.00

Approved: May 2003

Published: Jun 2003

Status: under review

Number of pages: 60

Add to basket


Other ordering methods


Download free PDF version

This report describes the health needs that young people should expect to be met by health service providers and proposes a strategy to meet them. It is hoped that it will provide a source of advice that will be useful to those planning and commissioning health services for adolescents. It recommends appropriate standards for health services for adolescents and identifies the training needs of professionals. The report states general principles whenever possible in the expectation that these can be applied by individual patient and professional groups and disciplines.
Findings include the following:

1) Young people have specific health needs, many of which remain unmet.

2) For most adolescents their parents remain key providers of health care and require support in this task.

3) Young people say that there are barriers to their effective use of both primary and secondary health care services including:

  • Lack of information.
  • Difficulties in achieving low visibility access for confidential issues.
  • Services are not seen as youth friendly because of: concerns about confidentiality for those under 16 years old; lack of expertise and continuity of care by professionals; failure to respect the validity of young people’s views; young people in hospital having to be accommodated either in a children’s ward or with a population they regard as elderly.
  • Some groups of young people have particular difficulties with access to services associated with issues such as disability, poverty, ethnicity, being looked after and sexual orientation.

4) Health services must pay greater attention to the special needs of young people if they wish to improve the emotional, psychological and physical health of the population.

  • The views and needs of young people should be taken into account at all stages of planning and delivery of health services for adolescents.
  • Health strategies must address the particular needs of adolescents particularly in relation to sexual health, substance abuse, mental health and accident prevention.
  • Encouragement should be given to innovative strategies, which in turn need to be evidence based and/or evaluated.

5) All health care providers should plan, support and monitor adolescent services within GP and other primary care, school based and secondary care services.

  • These services should enable all young people to have good information about and easy access to services of appropriate quality where consent and confidentiality issues have been resolved.
  • Effective provision requires co-ordination across different specialities specifically for young people.
  • Health commissioners should ensure that young people who are ‘difficult to reach’, such as those in pupil referral units or not in school, receive health services on an equitable basis.
  • Every healthcare organisation should have a policy for and identified lead professional for the provision of services for young people.
  • Good practice guidelines should be followed by all practitioners in relation to adolescents’ rights and professionals’ responsibilities in the areas of consent and confidentiality.

This is a joint report with the following organisations:

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Nursing
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Royal College of Physicians (London)
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Faculty of Public Health Medicine

Make a Donation


ISBN for CR114: