PLAYING WITH CHILDREN’S HEALTH?

We're calling on the next government to increase the play workforce in the NHS as part of our manifesto for children’s play in healthcare.

There is growing evidence that by reducing children’s stress levels through play, they engage better in their care and treatment.

Starlight wants politicians to promise children that government policy will support play as part of a happy, healthy childhood and protect children’s play when they are sick and in hospital

Play professionals can make procedures quicker and more cost-effective by reducing the need for anaesthesia or sedation and improving recovery times.

But even where health play services exist in hospitals, the lack of play in the evenings and at weekends means children and their families can still be at risk of not getting the support they need. 

Current number of health play professionals across England

644

Number of health play professionals needed

3,783

So what's next?

We're calling on the next government to increase the play workforce in the NHS as part of our manifesto's five-point policy asks.

Our manifesto is asking for:

  1. Health play services available 7 days a week, supported by an initial 1000 new health play professionals.
  2. New guidance and standards for health play services across the NHS.
  3. Training in play for all children’s health professionals.
  4. Play integrated within the commissioning and design of all children’s health services.
  5. A new cabinet minister for children (not just education).


For children in healthcare, play is their best protection against anxiety and trauma.

The play team were vital, they gave him a chance to be a kid again. If we have to go into hospital over the weekend, it’s really tough because I have to explain to Darshil that the play team won’t be there.

Kalpana, Darshil’s mother

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