Where is Child Health in the UK Headed?
18th April 2019
I am very concerned about the state of child health services in the UK.
Last year 4.5 million children attended A+E. Of these, NHS England estimated that 64% (nearly 3 million) could have been managed by their GP or at home.
So, why aren’t people going to their GP’s or managing their children at home?
Part of the problem is that GP’s are struggling.
Some estimates suggest that in some parts of the country people cannot get routine appointments with their GP within 10 days. Alongside this is the loss of the extended family. 50 years ago, young parents had the support of their parents, aunts and uncles to help advise them when their children were poorly. We have lost this as society has moved to a more nuclear family model.
This means that young parents do not know where to turn when their children are poorly. If they cannot get a quick GP appointment, they have nowhere else to turn apart from A+E. To say the system is at breaking point is an understatement and, in some parts, there is a 10% year on year increase in A+E attendances for children.
Clearly this is unsustainable and has to be viewed alongside the fact that we are desperately short of paediatric doctors (that discussion will form part of my next blog!). It’s now not an issue of if children’s health services will fail, more like when they will fail.