Children are dying from non-coronavirus illnesses, paediatrician says
Children are dying from non-coronavirus illnesses as parents are being wrongly warned to keep them out of hospital during the coronavirus pandemic, top paediatrician claims
- Mothers and fathers are delaying taking their children to hospital
- Professor Russell Viner said: ‘If your child is very unwell, we want to see them’
- NHS England said parents should come forward for ‘urgent care’ during crisis
Children are dying and suffering serious harm from non-coronavirus illnesses as parents are wrongly warned to keep them out of hospital during the pandemic, according to the country’s top paediatrician.
In a stark warning, Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), revealed that several children over the past week had been admitted to intensive care – and some had died – because they were not seen by doctors early enough.
Parents were delaying taking children to hospital amid fears over the virus, he added.
But there were also reports from senior medics that the overstretched NHS 111 helpline is giving flawed advice and telling parents to keep sick children at home.
In a statement to the Health Service Journal, Prof Viner said: ‘We’ve recently heard reports of a small but worrying number of cases where children may have become very unwell or even died because they weren’t seen early enough.
Speaking out: Top paediatrician Professor Russell Viner said children are dying and suffering serious harm from non-coronavirus illnesses due to advice to keep them out of hospital
‘Don’t wait or worry’: Professor Viner (right) pictured with Steven Wolfe MEP (left) urged parents to act if they were concerned about their children
‘Our message for parents is clear – if your child is very unwell, we want to see them. We don’t want parents to wait or to worry.’
One paediatric intensive care nurse told The Mail on Sunday that parents of babies with life-threatening symptoms of sepsis and bronchiolitis were, in some cases, being told by the 111 helpline to stay at home.
The nurse added: ‘Everyone in paediatric A&E and general paediatrics have been saying this for the past week or so, the kids they’re seeing are, generally, sicker than they would have been previously as parents are reluctant to go into a healthcare setting.
‘NHS Digital, which runs NHS Pathways – the triaging software used by 111 to give advice – said no changes had been made to its algorithms, which would change the advice being given.
NHS England, which runs the 111 service, said: ‘The clear message to parents and to patients is that they should continue to come forward for essential and urgent care.’
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