Last week we led a media campaign, speaking directly to parents, about delayed presentations. Until we build an evidence base to assess the extent of the issue, we rely on what we’re hearing from members on the ground. We had a simple message: If your child is unwell, the NHS is here for you. The story was carried on BBC News on Good Friday, and we reached more than 17 million people. It was also picked up widely in the Guardian, ITV, Sky, and the tabloids. We produced a poster to help parents make decisions and it reached nearly 100,000 people on social media.
It’s a useful example of how the College can work at speed, in all four nations, to respond to what you’re telling us. I’m very grateful to everyone who wrote to me and spoke to our teams at the College to shape an important message for parents. This is just the first step for us. I remain very concerned about other elements of the ‘collateral damage’ that children and young people are suffering, such as missed vaccinations, routine appointments that may not be happening and delayed surgery. As we appear to be at the peak of this pandemic, we need to look over the summit to plan for what comes next. We are beginning to look at how we begin to get our systems back on track. Our teams are working on this issue and we’ll have more to report soon.
We cannot be complacent yet that the worst is over. We have published an ethical framework for paediatric settings to provide guidance, in case we reach the worst-case scenario where demand within our services outstrips resources. Our assessment as it stands is that there is enough paediatric intensive care capacity in the UK, and it is my hope and expectation that this guidance is for reference only.
I’m pleased that our Impact of COVID-19 on Child Health Services data platform is now open, and we ask clinical leaders to start submitting data on behalf of their organisation. Not only will you be able to see this data reported on a weekly basis, but we will have a monitoring tool which will enable us to understand how we go about rebuilding services in a post-COVID world (there will be one, it’s just unclear when). Please ask your clinical lead and senior staff to get involved – it will help us hugely. My colleagues Nic Jay and Nick Bishop have written more about this.
On Monday 20 April, we’ll host our first COVID-19 live Q&A – I'd love to see you there. I’ll be joined by senior officers and we’ll talk through what we’ve been doing to support paediatrics and children in the first few months of the pandemic. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to share what’s on your mind and ask us questions. It’s from 2.30pm to 3.15pm BST and you can log in to see the details here.
Until then, stay safe and well.
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