HISTORY AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Action for Sick Children was founded in 1961, as Mother Care for Children in Hospital. It began as the result of research undertaken in the 1950s by James Robertson, a psychoanalyst, into the effects of separation from home and family on children in hospital. At that time, children endured long, lonely stays in hospital. Visiting hours were short or even non-existent. Parents were firmly discouraged from staying with their child, to avoid disrupting hospital routine or due to a perceived fear of cross infection.
Robertson’s 1953 film A Two Year Old Goes to Hospital showed that the most distressing part of hospitalisation for children was not pain or illness but ‘separation from mother’. After the film was broadcast and the publication of the government report, The Welfare of Children in Hospital (The Platt Report), which recommended that visiting to all children should be unrestricted, a group called Mother Care For Children In Hospital (MCCH) was set up.
MCCH aimed to persuade hospitals that the Platt Report recommendations could work. Their meetings with professionals and parents led to the formation of more MCCH groups, and the movement grew quickly. In 1963, 23 MCCH groups joined to form a national organisation which in 1965 changed its name to the National Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital - NAWCH.
NAWCH reached Scotland in the early 1960’s when two groups started in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Both Royal Hospitals for Sick Children in these cities soon had unrestricted visiting as their normal policy, but it took much longer to see any progress in the rest of Scotland. As a result of the growing workload, in 1977 NAWCH (Scotland) was constituted as a separate Scottish Charity which in 1991 took on the campaigning name of Action for Sick Children (Scotland) (ASC(S)). This new name reflected the fact that an increasing amount of children’s health care was now taking place in the community or at home rather than in hospital. In 2008 our charity and company name was changed to Action for Sick Children (Scotland). In 2012 it was further changed to Action for Sick Children Scotland.
ASCS along with Action for Sick Children in England and Wales has over the years been regarded as an expert in setting standards for the care of sick children. The principles of the 1984 NAWCH Charter for Children in Hospital were expanded into the NAWCH Quality Review Setting Standards for Children in Health Care, which has since been used by many hospitals, Health Authorities and Health Boards as a benchmark of high quality children’s health services. Subsequent Quality Reviews have set standards for children undergoing surgery, adolescents in hospital, children from ethnic minorities, day surgery, children’s mental health services and health services for children and young people. A Guide for Commissioners and Providers produced in 1996 has replaced the original quality review. Action for Sick Children Scotland is also a member of the European Association for the Welfare of Children in Hospital (EACH) which has developed and promoted the rights of children in hospital in through its EACH Charter.
Today ASCS continues to campaign for children and young people to get the highest standard and quality of care when they are ill in hospital, at home or in the community. ASCS influences the work of many committees and groups concerned with the healthcare provided to children and young people in Scotland at times of illness and we work with the Scottish Government, NHS Scotland and other relevant bodies to ensure legislation and policy meet the needs of sick children and young people.
Some of the issues the organisation has addressed over the years include: Care of Premature babies, facilities for adolescents, national survey of accommodation for parents and facilities for children, children in orthopaedic wards, parents in the anaesthetic room, children and pain, the “Too Dear to Visit” travel cost campaign (in conjunction with Contact a Family) and dental surgical services for children in Scotland. A recent campaign focus is for equitable and appropriate access to education for children and young people absent from school due to illness. This resulted in the Scottish Government's decision to set up a Stakeholder Group to review the Education Guidance on Education of Children Absent from School through Ill-Health. Our 2012-13 Parental Access and Family Facilities Survey of Scottish hospitals admitting paediatric patients has highlighted areas where progress needs to be made and so our new campaigning focus will include: Health Food/nutrition to be provided for children in hospital; Provision for Parents/Carers on day of their child's operation; Young People's facilities in hospital.