STUDENTS took over the running of a health trust and hope to have left their mark for future generations.
Around 40 pupils from schools in Northumberland and North Tyneside took over planning the new Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital for a day.
And as part of their visit, they were given a chance to choose a name for the paediatric unit, which will open in 2015.
The event was part of Children’s Commissioner’s Takeover Day 2012 – which gives young people the chance to get involved in decision making.
Officials at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust invited the pupils – some of whom were from Ashington High School and Cramlington Learning Village – to work with emergency care consultants, architects and senior healthcare managers to help decide what the new short-stay paediatric facility in Cramlington should be called.
They were involved in a ‘speed-dating’ session acting as team managers and communications officers, gathering information from the trust’s clinical and management teams, feeding in their ideas and comments on the development of the new hospital.
At the end of the day they had drawn up a shortlist of potential names for the new paediatric unit that will go to a panel chaired by Brian Flood, chairman of Northumbria Healthcare and the trust’s children’s champion.
And they produced their own communications plan for the two-year build of the hospital, including input into events such as burying a time capsule and laying a foundation stone, leading up to the opening of the new hospital in 2015.
The youngsters, aged between 16 and 18, also gave their views on various aspects of the new hospital, which will be the first of its kind in the country where specialist consultants will be working around the clock to treat the most seriously ill and injured patients.
The event, held at the trust’s offices in Cobalt Business Park in North Shields, was part of a national event led by the Children’s Commissioner for England, which gives children and young people the chance to shadow jobs and offer their opinions on key issues.
Birju Rana, project director of the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, said: “Our specialist emergency care hospital is a very exciting project which will improve healthcare for communities across Northumberland and North Tyneside for many years to come.
“We felt it was very fitting to take part in such a unique initiative such as Takeover Day to involve local young people – who along with their families will benefit from the new hospital throughout their lives – and give them the opportunity to feed into our plans and come up with a name for our paediatric department.
“The final name will be a lasting legacy for all the young people involved and we look forward to hearing their views and progressing all of the entries to the judging panel.”
Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England, said: “Our Takeover Day provides a brilliant opportunity for children and young people to make a difference to their schools and communities, put their views across and challenge the stereotypes about them that we hear too often.
“Children and young people have so much to offer. They bring ideas, imagination and energy which can really make a difference to organisations.”