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'My child is in pain - but I'm helpless'

Thomas Hebbron is one of the forgotten victims of the pandemic.

He was diagnosed with leukaemia in February 2019 - a year before Covid hit the UK.

The eight-year-old, from Leeds, has been treated with chemotherapy which has continued throughout the pandemic, but his health has suffered in other ways - and his mother believes the unrelenting focus on the virus is to blame.

Pre-pandemic he was seen in person by doctors every two weeks. But that changed to monthly video calls, and liver and urinary problems went undetected.

His treatment also affected his fine motor skills and has weakened his legs, but he has not seen an occupational therapist since before the pandemic.

"I want to take this pain away from him," says his mother, Gemma. "I don't want to sit and watch him in this pain, but I can't do anything. I just feel completely helpless."

Thomas's story is not unique. An analysis by the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation has for the first time laid bare how access to core health services in England has been squeezed, threatening to leave behind a generation of young people.

The review has looked at both physical and mental health services and come to the same conclusion - support has been badly disrupted and the plight of children overlooked.

The Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation have been joined by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) in calling for a dedicated plan for children to help them recover from the pandemic.

Dr Camilla Kingdon, RCPCH president, said the figures "do not take into account the many other 'hidden' waiting lists of children waiting for community therapies and diagnostic assessments, especially for autism".

She added that children are "struggling" and, despite services being stretched, no-one should be deterred from speaking to a health professional.

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Source: BBC News, 18 February 2022


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