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There is no government body specifically responsible for the health of young people.
The Welsh Government, through its Health and Social Services Group is responsible for health and well-being policy making. Political responsibility is held by the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport, who oversees all aspects of the operation of the National Health Service (NHS) in Wales. The Cabinet Secretary is supported by the Minister for Social Services and Public Health. The responsibilities of the Minister include:
- the national strategy and policy for community sport, physical activity and active recreation in Wales, including sponsorship of the Sports Council for Wales
- all aspects of public health and health protection
- promotion of walking and cycling, including the Active Travel (Wales) Act 2013 (see ‘Promoting and supporting sport and physical activity among young people’ in ‘Sport, youth fitness and physical activity’)
- substance misuse.
The Health, Social Care and Sport Committee of the National Assembly for Wales was established in2016 to examine legislation and hold the Welsh Government to account by scrutinising expenditure, administration and policy matters. It completed an inquiry into the physical activity of children and young people in 2017 (see ‘Current debates and reforms’).
The areas of its oversight mainly concern physical, mental and public health and well-being, including the social care system.
The Cabinet Secretary for Education, through the Education Directorate, has responsibilities in relation to the provision of education on health, physical activity and sex and relationships. There is also joint working with the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport in areas such as the school counselling service and child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
The Children, Young People and Education Committee of the National Assembly for Wales examines legislation and holds the Welsh Government to account by scrutinising its expenditure, administration and policy matters, encompassing (but not restricted to): the education, health and well-being of the children and young people of Wales, including their social care (see 'Current debates and reforms’ for details of its inquiry into the emotional and mental health of children and young people).
Public Health Wales is one of the three NHS Trusts. It provides public health advice and services to protect and improve health and well-being and reduce health inequalities, and aims to improve the quality, equity and effectiveness of healthcare services.
See the NHS Wales website for more information about the structure of the National Health Service in Wales.
Sport Wales is the national organisation which works on behalf of the Welsh Government to develop and promote sports and physical activity programmes in Wales. Local authorities and National Governing Bodies of sport work with Sport Wales to deliver Welsh Government policy. It also acts as an adviser to the Welsh Government and is responsible for distributing National Lottery funds to both elite and grassroots sport.
Local authorities have a central role when it comes to the provision of community sport and recreation facilities. These facilities and services include:
- indoor and outdoor leisure facilities
- sports pitches, playing fields and playgrounds
- cycle ways and cycle routes
- public parks and open spaces
- sports development schemes.
The office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales was established to be a champion for children and young people’s human rights. It has responsibilities in relation to children and young people who are under 18, or under 25 if they have been in the care of a public authority.
Mental health and well-being have been included as priorities in the Commissioner’s strategic plan for 2016-2019.
The Welsh Government established the Physical Activity Executive Group (PAEG) in 2013 to improve levels of physical activity in Wales through a coordinated, cross-government approach.
The group, which works with partner organisations such as Public Health Wales and Sports Wales, is developing a pan-Wales physical activity plan, building on the work of Creating an Active Wales, and Climbing Higher – the all-age sport and physical activity strategy for Wales up to 2025 (see ‘National strategy (ies)’ in ‘Sport, youth fitness and physical activity’.
The bringing together of the key portfolios relating to health and well-being within the remit of the Minister for Social Services and Public Health and the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport provides opportunities for increased coordination in this area. This includes, for example, joint working on areas such as school counselling services and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). See ‘Improving the mental health of young people’ in ‘Mental health’.