National survey of Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) in England: children, young people and parents' access to and use of PALS

J Heaton, P Sloper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) have been set up in the National Health Service (NHS) in England to enable patients and the public to access information and raise issues they are concerned about their health care. The aim of this study was to examine to what extent, and how, PALS have promoted children’s, young people's and parents’ access to and use of the service.
Methods A postal questionnaire was sent to PALS in 553 NHS Trusts and Primary Care Trusts (PCTs). PALS in Ambulance Trusts, and Specialist Trusts that were known not to provide services for children and young people, were excluded.
Results Questionnaires were returned by 320 respondents representing 369 trusts – a response rate of 67%. Seventy-seven responses were not valid, giving a final sample of 243 PALS. This included 122 PALS serving PCTs, 101 serving NHS Trusts, 15 serving a mix of both PCTs and NHS Trusts, and five serving children's hospitals. The responses suggest that, to date, most PALS have been developed as a generic service, with some making special efforts to target specific groups of patients and sections of the public. However, where such efforts have been made, they have tended to focus most of all on older people and least of all on children.
Conclusions PALS are intended to serve all sections of the community and accordingly need to be developed in ways that ensure the service is accessible to hard-to-reach groups such as children and young people. The remainder of the research will examine children, young people and parents’ perspectives on how PALS can involve them, and will provide associated guidelines for trusts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-501
Number of pages6
JournalChild Care Health and Development
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2004


  • PALS
  • children
  • young people
  • parents
  • national survey


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