Senior health figures, including Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, and Norman Lamb, the minister for care, met teenage carers in an event at the London Zoo.
The event, organised by 45 young carers, was staged so children and teenagers who care for a family member could discuss the issues they face with the senior health figures. It is estimated that 166,000 children and teenagers in England fulfill the role of carer.
Laura Marshall, co-deputy chair of the RCN's Children and Young People: Continuing and Community Care Forum, said: 'This has been a wonderful opportunity to sit down with young carers and to discuss how we can all do more to support them. It's been inspiring to hear from young carers, who all spoke very powerfully of their experiences. They truly are the experts in the care of their loved ones. Nursing staff have a key role to play. Practice nurses, for example, can really help to strengthen the relationship between young carers and GPs, and ensure that they are receiving the support they need.'
Dr Peter Carter, the RCN's general secretary, said: 'It's important that young carers receive the support they need to take care of their own health and wellbeing. School nurses and community children's nurses can play a positive role by identifying young carers, providing useful advice and information, and arranging access to other health services when required. Through listening to young carers, nursing staff and other health professionals can understand their needs and work to ensure that the health system works better in supporting them.'
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