Life on the children’s ward

Hospitals can be scary places for adults let alone children. We set up an arts competition giving local kids visiting Leeds Children’s Hospital a chance to tell us what their stay was like. Since then we have produced a cartoon to bring to life the comments and pictures submitted by children, maybe hospitals aren’t so scary after all!


NHS Leeds CCG felt that children’s voices were often overlooked when it came to engaging with patients about their experience of healthcare services. The Director of Nursing and Quality at the CCG – who is also the children’s champion – wanted to find a way to address this.

Working in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust we set up an arts competition so that children could draw their favourite and not so favourite things about their hospital visit.

Children aged between five and 16 years of age, who were patients at Leeds Children’s Hospital, were invited to tell the story of their own hospital experience by drawing pictures. The children were provided with pencils, crayons and felt tips. The drawings were all their own ideas, although members of staff assisted when required.

How we involved and engaged

We worked closely with the play worker at the children’s wards to develop the competition. The aim was to give children a voice and to understand what it felt like as a child to be in hospital. We also wanted to share their artwork with other young patients and their parents/carers to reassure them before they came into hospital for any treatment.

We were expecting lots of stories about how scary the hospital might be or tales of how they were missing their family and friends. We were pleasantly surprised, that aside from maybe the odd needle, the kids enjoyed their stay and made new friends while they were on the wards.

The feedback and artwork was so impressive we wanted to find a way of sharing this with anyone who works with children and young people and decided the best way to do this would be through an animated film.

The cartoon which captures the views of children also includes an introduction from Emma Marshall, Play Specialist Team Leader at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – a popular member of the team!

The short film features children’s experiences of hospitals brought together in an animated DVD to help give children who are about to go to hospital a better understanding of what to expect.


The cartoon was shown during a Governing Body meeting held in public and also has been distributed to individuals and organisations who work with children in Leeds and beyond. An unexpected outcome has been that Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is introducing new ways of encouraging feedback from children and young people.

If you would like a DVD copy of the film please email: [email protected]