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I was delighted to visit Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool today, to learn about the work of the Chair Dame Jo Williams, CEO Louise Shepherd CBE and her team.

From the moment I arrived, I was struck by how dedicated staff are to ensuring that every child receives excellent care. It was terrific to see the focus on education at Alder Hey and meet the hospital teachers. I was also impressed by the brand new building called Sunflower House. A 12 bed Tier 4 mental health unit for under 13s which was carefully designed by children themselves.

It was wonderful to discuss the approach to children’s health and wellbeing across Cheshire and Merseyside at Alder Hey, and to listen to children’s views on care during a roundtable discussion.

Children’s responses to The Big Ask underlined how they reject the false dichotomy between mental and physical health, and I was very interested to hear children’s thoughts during this roundtable on how physical and mental health care can be better integrated, to ensure all children are given support when they need it.

In the afternoon, it was brilliant to meet young people who are taking part in the Hospital’s Volun-Teens programme. Children told me in The Big Ask that they want more opportunities for work experience and volunteering in a range of sectors. It was therefore great to hear about young peoples views about how children should be supported and prioritised coming out of the pandemic.

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