Originally commissioned by NHS Cornwall & Isles of Scilly to develop an aid for young people leaving care, the Health Passport was designed to help them obtain various healthcare services including registering with a GP.

Information about health issues and medical history for someone who has been in care isn’t easily acquired or retained and the lack of information can make it very difficult to register with the various healthcare professionals. Children who have been in care become eligible to leave at 16. Although they may remain in care for several more years, the NHS wanted to provide Care Leavers at 16, with all the relevant information they needed, relating to their health, to make it much easier for them to obtain the healthcare services that most of us take for granted.

Working in partnership with the NHS through a series of consultations with young people and healthcare professionals, the Health Passport was developed. It was important that the document be robust, easily handleable, editable and extensible – allowing details to be updated and added to. The pocket-sized notebook has space included to record details of medical and health history as well as space for information about doctors, dentists and other medical professionals. The user-friendly format enables information to be added to or updated and a handy pocket on the inside back cover means appointment cards and other information can be inserted and kept safely.

It was also important that the document connected with the young people as something of value, and not dumbed down – something that they would take ownership of. By giving a choice of colours that the Care Leaver can select provides a subtle, yet important, sense of ownership right from the outset.

The aim of the Health Passport was to value the Care Leaver and put them in control of their own medical history and health information and to provide them with a raised sense of personal ownership and self importance.

This aim is universal and the Health Passport has been updated to provide anyone with the ability use it for self care: Helping to give the patient the knowledge, skills and confidence in managing and improving their own health and care.