Designing Paediatric Networks - It's not child's play

"Great health professionals do not make great healthcare. Great healthcare professionals interacting well with all the other elements of the healthcare system make great healthcare."

Donald Berwick

Nowhere is Donald Berwick’s statement more relevant than in the case of children’s services.

Leading paediatric providers worldwide typically operate within well-developed networks to ensure clinical and financial critical mass, enable local access where appropriate and, increasingly harness digital approaches to disseminate scarce expertise.

Why, then, aren’t all children’s services delivered as part of a care network?

Legacies incorporating institutional, political and infrastructural issues may present barriers when developing a network solution and it is often a proposal for a new paediatric hospital (which would take a brave health minister to resist) which highlights issues and raises questions including:

  • Which services should be provided centrally, and which should remain in existing hospitals?
  • How will the negative financial impact to existing providers be mitigated should services be transferred to an alternative location?
  • What is the optimum distribution of services for workforce sustainability?
  • What are the co-dependencies between children’s and adult services?
  • How will capacity be managed within a new facility when the medium – long term impact of the network is uncertain?

This poster draws upon the experience in the USA, UK, Ireland and Greece to discuss approaches which have been taken to overcome barriers of change, establish sustainable paediatric networks and secure investment in new facilities through formalising structures to deliver a clinical network for paediatrics and joining together the multiplicity of programmes and mechanisms available to support such structures.

Deirdre Foley Woods