Southampton clinicians help develop national coronavirus advice for parents

COVID-19 advice for parentsClinicians in Southampton have helped to develop national guidance on children’s health to support parents through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

It follows concerns raised by specialists across the country that many children with conditions unrelated to the virus are not being brought to healthcare professionals as quickly as they normally would.

The guidance has been produced by Dr Sanjay Patel, a consultant in paediatric infectious diseases at Southampton Children’s Hospital, his Healthier Together project and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

It consists of a simple red, amber and green traffic light system advising parents of which symptoms require them to seek urgent medical advice and the options available to them.

“These are extremely challenging and worrying times for families and I can't stress how important it is to follow the government advice about social distancing in order to slow down the speed of COVID-19,” said Dr Patel.

“However, I'm really worried there is a very real risk that some children with illnesses such as appendicitis, dehydration or even sepsis are not being brought to see healthcare professionals as quickly as they would be normally. 

“We are seeing fewer children than we would expect to see at this time of year, particular through our emergency department, and those we are seeing who do not have COVID-19 are more severely unwell.

“We’ve seen evidence of this in Hampshire as well as across the country.”

He said it was important parents do not assume all illness will be a consequence of COVID-19 or to be concerned about accessing healthcare services for fear of contracting the virus.

“We know that the message about COVID-19 is so powerful and parents are putting most children’s illnesses down to this,” he explained. 

“The other issue is that they are just too scared to bring their child to see a healthcare professional because they are worried that they might pick up COVID-19.

“Therefore it is really important for parents to recognise that COVID-19 is not causing severe infection and illness in most children.”

He added: “That's why I've been working closely with the RCPCH to produce clear guidance to parents about what features to look out for which prompt them to seek advice of a healthcare professional.

“I also want to stress NHS 111, GPs and emergency departments are all still delivering the same safe care they have always done.

“If your child is unwell don’t assume they have COVID-19, please take a look at the resources we’ve developed and if your child has any of the red or amber features seek help urgently.”

Download the poster here and for more information visit https://www.what0-18.nhs.uk/national/coronavirus.

Posted on Sunday 12 April 2020