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Found 87 results
  1. News Article
    Healthcare practitioners who committed child sexual abuse commonly did so under the guise of medical treatment, which went unchallenged by other staff even when unnecessary or inappropriate because of their position of trust, research has found. An independent inquiry into child sexual abuse report into abuse in healthcare settings between the 1960s and 2000s found that perpetrators were most commonly male GPs or healthcare practitioners with routine clinical access to children. As a result their behaviour was not questioned by colleagues, the children or their parents. In many cases patients’ healthcare needs related to physical, psychological and sexual abuse they suffered at home. They spoke of attending health institutions seeking treatment, care and recovery, but were instead subjected to sexual abuse. This included fondling, exposing children to adult sexuality, and violations of privacy. More than half who shared their experiences described suffering sexual abuse by penetration. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 4 December 2020
  2. Content Article
    In the two weeks before his death Robbie was seen seven times by five different GPs. The child was seen by three different GPs four times in the last three days when he was so weak and dehydrated he was bedbound and unable to stand unassisted. Only one GP read the medical records, six days before death, and was aware of the suspicion of Addison's disease, the need for the ACTH test and the instruction to immediately admit the child back to hospital if he became unwell. The GP informed the Powells that he would refer Robbie back to hospital immediately that day but did not inform them that Addison's disease had been suspected. The referral letter was not typed until after Robbie had already died and was backdated to the day following the consultation. In a statement after Robbie's death this GP stated: "An Addisonian crisis is precipitated by an intercurrent illness and the stress it induces." Dyfed-Powys Police investigated Robbie's death between 1994 and 1996 but asserted, supported by the Crown prosecution Service in Wales, that there was no evidence of crimes committed by the GPs who, incidentally, were retained by this police force as police surgeons. Following a complaint by Will Powell (Robbie's father) in 1998 against the Deputy Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, regarding the inadequacies of the criminal investigation, a second criminal investigation was agreed, which commenced in January 1999. As with the first criminal investigation, there was a gross failure to adequately investigate the criminality of the doctors. This resulted in Will Powell making a formal complaint against the Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police in late 1999. This complaint against the Chief Constable resulted in Dyfed-Powys Police appointing an outside police force to review Robbie's case in 2000. Detective Chief Inspector Robert Poole [DCI Poole] from West Midlands Police was appointed. DCI Poole’s investigation report, entitled 'Operation Radiance', which was based on the documents provided to Dyfed Powys Police in March 1994, by Will Powell and his solicitor, was submitted to CPS York in March 2002. This report put forward 35 suggested criminal charges against five GPs and their medical secretary. The listed charges were: gross negligence manslaughter forgery attempting to pervert the course of justice conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. DCI Poole's investigation also resulted in a disciplinary inquiry by Avon & Somerset Constabulary into Will Powell's allegations of misconduct against Dyfed-Powys Police officers with regards to their two inept criminal investigations between 1994 and 2000. Dyfed-Powys Police was found to have been 'institutionally incompetent' but no police officer was made accountable. In April 2003, Will Powell met representatives from the CPS in London, who accepted there was sufficient evidence to prosecute two GPs and their secretary for forgery and perverting the course of justice. However, they would not prosecuted because of (1) the passage of time, which was caused by a decade of cover ups between 1990 and the appointment of DCI Poole in 2000, (2) Dyfed Powys Police had provided the GPs with a letter of immunity, and (3) the available evidence had been initially overlooked by the police and the CPS, between 1994 and 2000, for a variety of reasons. Following a 2013 adjournment debate, in the House of Commons, the Director of Public Prosecutions subsequently agreed, in October 2014, that there would be an independent review of the decisions made by Crown Prosecution Service, in 2003, not to prosecute, when there was sufficient evidence to do so. The reviewing Queen's Counsels have been provided with a report, written by myself ( a healthcare IT professional, former head of IT in an NHS trust and clinician) on major anomalies in Robbie's Morriston Hospital computerised records, which were erased during the first criminal investigation between 1994 and 1996. The review has not been concluded six years on. The letter below (and also attached) from the English and Welsh Ombudsman was sent on 10 November 2020 sets out the case for a Public Inquiry.
  3. News Article
    Mistakes by Great Ormond Street contributed to the death of a five-year-old boy, the children’s hospital has admitted – just months after it concluded a legal case with his family in which it denied responsibility. The world-renowned children’s hospital failed to flag results of a crucial blood test, showing that Walif Yafi had a dangerous infection, to doctors at King’s College Hospital where he had been receiving treatment. He died a few weeks later, in September 2017. In September this year, Walif’s parents agreed an out-of-court settlement with Great Ormond Street, which admitted negligence but denied liability for the boy’s death. However, this week the hospital admitted an expert had reviewed the case ahead of the settlement and concluded its actions did contribute to Walif’s death. The hospital said it had been under no duty to share these results with Walif’s parents at the time. Walif had a liver transplant in 2012 after suffering cancer shortly after his birth, and was being overseen by Great Ormond Street as an outpatient, as well as by the transplant team at King’s College Hospital, in south London. On 24 August 2017, he had a routine blood test at Great Ormond Street, which showed he had an adenovirus infection – something that is common in children whose immune system is being suppressed by drugs, as Walif’s was because of his transplant. If untreated, the infection can be deadly. But the blood test result was not communicated to the team at King’s College Hospital. Shortly afterwards, Walif’s health deteriorated and he was admitted to hospital. He was transferred to King’s College Hospital a week later, and it was not until 7 September that the infection was confirmed. By this stage, he was severely unwell and, though he began anti-viral therapy, Walif suffered multiple organ failure from the spread of the infection. On 30 September, he suffered cardiac arrest and died. It was only when approached by The Independent this week that the trust revealed its expert had, in the course of negotiating the settlement with Walif’s parents, determined the hospital did materially contribute to the child’s death. Read full story Source: The Independent, 29 November 2020
  4. News Article
    A transgender boy is taking NHS England to court over delays in accessing gender identity treatment. The 14-year-old, who was referred to the UK’s only youth gender identity clinic in October 2019, has been told he may have to wait at least another year to be seen. He said he was experiencing “fear and terror” while he waits for treatment. Young people are currently facing “extensive waits” to see a therapist, with the average delay being 18 months or more, according to the Good Law Project, which is representing the boy. The not-for-profit organisation said the health service was legally required to ensure patients referred to gender identity development services (GIDS) are seen within 18 weeks. Gender clinics for adults across the country have reported similar delays, with the Devon Partnership NHS Trust reporting “lengthy waiting times” while the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust said patients were facing delays “in excess of 32 months” for an initial appointment and 62 months from referral to treatment. Trusts have blamed a surge in demand as well as reduced capacity, including staffing problems. The teenager involved in the case said in a statement: “The length of the NHS waiting list means the treatments which are essential for my well being are not available to me." “By the time I get to the top of the list it will be too late, and in the meantime I suffer the fear and terror that gender dysphoria causes, every day.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 23 November 2020
  5. News Article
    Young, low risk patients with ongoing symptoms of COVID-19 had signs of damage to multiple organs four months after initially being infected, a preprint study has suggested. Initial data from 201 patients suggest that almost 70% had impairments in one or more organs four months after their initial symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The results emerged as the NHS announced plans to establish a network of more than 40 long covid specialist clinics across England this month to help patients with long term symptoms of infection. The prospective Coverscan study examined the impact of long covid (persistent symptoms three months post infection) across multiple organs in low risk people who are relatively young and had no major underlying health problems. The research has not yet been peer reviewed and could not establish a causal link between organ impairment and infection. But the authors said the results had “implications not only for [the] burden of long covid but also public health approaches which have assumed low risk in young people with no comorbidities.” Read full story Source: BMJ, 17 November 2020
  6. Content Article
    In this blog we will focus on several issues where there is a clear overlap between pain and patient safety concerns, inviting further debate and collaboration on this important topic through a series of questions. Consenting to treatment Consenting to treatment is vital to respecting the rights of the patient and ensuring safe care. It is also one area where we see evidence of how patient safety and pain issues can overlap. A recent example of this can be found in the publication of last month’s report of the Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review, First Do No Harm. This highlighted a number of cases where women were unable to consent to treatment, undergoing pelvic mesh procedures without being aware that mesh would be used.[4][5] Many have since experienced adverse effects of the mesh, including severe and chronic pain, managed now by strong opioid painkillers. While in the above example lack of consent is linked to pain following treatment, there are other cases where patients lack the necessary information regarding pain during a procedure. Women who have undergone outpatient hysteroscopy procedures have highlighted concerns around informed choice, with many given little or no information beforehand about the risk of severe pain. Of those who did experience high levels of pain, some have reported that their doctor continued with the procedure despite their obvious agony, leaving them feeling traumatised and violated. [6-10] These examples go against the legal requirement for patients to be made aware of what a treatment will involve, including the associated risks.[11] They illustrate the relationship that can exist between consent, pain and patient harm. Patient safety points for further discussion: Are there other scenarios we can learn from to understand how consent impacts on pain experience and patient safety? What support do clinicians need to communicate the information in a way that is accessible, comprehensive and patient focussed? Where guidance for clinicians exists[12], why isn’t it being widely used? What can be done to make sure patients feel empowered and supported in halting procedures if the pain becomes unmanageable? Should severe procedural pain be recorded as a Serious Adverse Event? Communication In our report A Blueprint for Action we make clear the importance of engaging patients in patient safety, drawing on evidence that shows that ‘communication between clinicians and patients has a positive impact on health outcomes’.[13] When looking at issues of pain and communication, problems with the latter can often present a barrier to dealing appropriately with a patient’s pain issues. For example, evidence shows that pre-verbal children are far less likely to receive adequate pain control in comparison to their adult or older children counterparts.[14] Their inability to self-report has a direct impact on the level of pain they are likely to have to endure. Poorly managed pain in childhood can cause chronic pain, disability, and distress in adult life.[15] Similarly, there are calls for people with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) to have their pain better managed, particularly pertinent where self-reporting is not feasible. Researchers have acknowledged the communication barriers faced by patients with IDD and highlight a need for evidence-based, stakeholder-informed methods to be used, in order to assess pain and prevent unnecessary suffering[16]. This raises further questions around disparities in pain relief for patients who may struggle to communicate for other reasons. For example, if being treated in the NHS and where English is not their first language. Patient safety point for further discussion: Can examples be shared where alternative pain assessment tools have been used to meet the needs of patients with communication challenges? Bias and gatekeeping Another overlap between pain and patient safety is when it comes to access to medication and clinicians holding a gatekeeping role in this respect. Here we will look at examples of this in three different health areas: 1) Maternity The pain that women can experience in childbirth is widely recognised. Some report that pain relief was either withheld or not given within a reasonable time when they requested it during labour.[17] There can be different factors that also interact with this, with some women raising concerns around the role that racism or cultural assumptions may play in these circumstances. For example, there is a risk that black women could be denied pain relief because of a common perception that they are stronger and better able to cope.[18-19] Or, that loud vocalisations of pain may be more easily dismissed and wrongly attributed to differences in cultural expression[20], rather than seen as genuine and in need of immediate response. We have also spoken to women who felt that staff were ‘gatekeepers’ to pain relief during their labour, based on their preference leaning towards birthing with no medical intervention. The investigation into patient deaths at Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust maternity and neonatal services found that the presence of such attitudes contributed to unsafe deliveries.[21] The Royal College of Midwives has also faced criticism over the language used in a campaign to encourage expectant mums to give birth without intervention, where vaginal deliveries were referred to as ‘normal births’. The College now uses the term ‘physiological births’. 2) Sickle cell anaemia Bias is evident in several patient groups, particularly in the sickle cell community. Mismanagement of pain in this group is frequent due to the assumptions held by clinicians and healthcare workers.[22] Sickle cell patients may be perceived as hypochondriacs, drug seeking or addicted to pain relief. This often leads to patients waiting long periods without (or with minimal) pain relief and can prevent them from seeking help early, potentially leading to further deterioration.[23] 3) Chronic pain Patients who suffer with chronic pain may also be waiting for long periods without adequate relief, whether attending hospital or seeing a GP. Studies have shown that up to a third of UK adults suffer from chronic pain[24] and, although guidance has been produced,[25-26] there is evidence that clinician assumptions continue. Some, for example, do not accept that Fibromyalgia (a condition that the patient suffers chronic pain) actually exists.[27] Attitudes like this can lead to patients being ignored, dismissed or sent away with minimal intervention. Sadly, for decades patients have been raising concerns around the dismissal, bias and lack of understanding surrounding the management of chronic pain.[28] A recent analysis of tweets from patients, many of whom had chronic pain, showed that harmful doctor-patient communication can impact on diagnostic safety.[29] Patient safety points for further discussion: What training is there for GPs and other clinicians regarding pain management, across different patient groups and demographics? To what extent do assumptions and biases impact how patients experience pain more broadly throughout health and social care? To what extent does institutional racism play a part? Differences in pain experience Research suggests that pain thresholds can vary. Low pain tolerance has been attributed to patients with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome[30] and intellectual and developmental disabilities[31]. Studies have also shown that gender[32], ethnicity[33] and previous trauma[34] can all contribute to people experiencing pain differently. With research indicating there are notable differences in pain thresholds, it leads us to question whether all patients have equal access to the pain relief needed to reasonably ease suffering. Patient safety points for further discussion: Are some patients at greater risk of experiencing trauma-inducing levels of pain than others? Do the methods used for determining how much pain relief to give an individual adequately recognise differences in thresholds, across all demographics? We’d like to hear your views In some ways, we end as we began - with an understanding that pain is incredibly complex. The growing concerns around opioid reliance and over-prescription add another dimension to the conversation and will challenge our thinking further. Eliminating pain altogether would undoubtedly have implications for how we are able to listen to our bodies and adjust accordingly to recover or prevent damage. However, there is clearly much to learn in order to manage peoples’ pain needs safely, effectively and without perpetuating inequalities. And we cannot ignore the continued presence of both acute and chronic pain in incidences of patient harm. Patients are describing their personal, and sometimes deeply traumatic, experiences to help key decision-makers identify where change may be needed and prevent future suffering. Their insight and lived-experience will prove crucial to this debate. The limited examples used in this blog are designed to trigger wider conversations about how we may work together to understand pain as a broader patient safety issue. We welcome the input of others who have an interest in this area. Please comment below or get in touch with the Patient Safety Learning team by emailing content@psl.org. References [1] British Pain Society, Useful definitions and glossary. [2] Katz N, The Impact of Pain Management on Quality of Life. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management 2002; 24; 38-47. [3] Twycross A, Forgeron P, Chorne J et al. Pain as the neglected patient safety concern: Five years on. Journal of Child Health Care. 2016; 20 (4): 537-541. [4] The Independent Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Review. First Do No Harm 2020. [5] Patient Safety Learning. Findings of the Cumberlege Review: informed consent. Patient Safety Learning’s the hub 2020. [6] Patient Safety Learning. Painful Hysteroscopy. Patient Safety Learning’s the hub, Community Forum. 2020. [7] Women’s Hour. Hysteroscopy. 2019. [8] Discombe M. Hundreds of women left ‘distressed’ by hysteroscopies. Health Service Journal 2019. [9] Care Opinion. Painful hysteroscopy and biopsy. 2019. [10] Hysteroscopy Action campaign website. [11] The Supreme Court. Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board. 2015. [12] Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Outpatient Hysteroscopy. 2018. [13] Patient Safety Learning. The Patient-Safe Future: A Blueprint For Action. 2019. [14] Kirkey S. Study suggests more can be done to control pain for children. Ottawa Citizen 2014. [15] Eccleston C, Fisher E, Howard R et al. Delivering transformative action in paediatric pain: a Lancet Child & Adolescent Health Commission 2020. [16] Barney, Chantel C, Andersen et al. Challenges in pain assessment and management among individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. PAIN Reports 2020; 4; 821. [17] Hill A. Women in labour being refused epidurals, official inquiry finds. The Guardian 2020. [18] Patient Safety Learning. Racial disparities in postnatal mental health: An interview with Sandra Igwe the Founder of The Motherhood Group. Patient Safety Learning’s the hub 2020. [19][19] Patient Safety Learning. Five X More campaign: Improving maternal mortality rates and health outcomes for black women. Patient Safety Learning’s the hub 2020. [20] Wyatt R. Pain and Ethnicity. Virtual Mentor. 2013; 15(5); 449-454. [21] Kirkup B. The Report of the Morcambe Bay Investigation. 2015. [22] Smith-Wynter L, van den Akker O. Patient perceptions of crisis pain management in sickle cell disease: a cross-cultural study. NT Research. 2000;5(3):204-213. [23] Hall S. “People with Sickle Cell are seen as hypochondriacs or drug addicts. Even a nine-year-old has to scream to get the care they need”. Picker. [24] NICE. Chronic pain: assessment and management. Guideline scope. 2018. [25] NICE. Analgesia - mild-to-moderate pain. Accessed 2020. [26] NICE. Chronic pain: assessment and management (in development). Page accessed 2020. [27] Häuser W, Fitzcharles MA. Facts and myths pertaining to fibromyalgia. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2018; 20 (1): 53-62. [28] Rehmeyer J. Bad science misled millions with chronic fatigue syndrome. Here’s how we fought back. Stat News. 2016. [29] Sharma AE, Mann Z, Cherian R et al. Recommendations From the Twitter Hashtag #DoctorsAreDickheads: Qualitative Analysis. J Med Internet Res 2020; 22 (10): e17595 [30] Dellwo A. Pain Threshold and Tolerance in Fibromyalgia and CFS. Verywell Health. 2020. [31] Barney, Chantel C, Andersen et al. Challenges in pain assessment and management among individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. PAIN Reports: 2020; 5 (4); 821 [32] Mogil J, Bailey A. Chapter 9 - Sex and gender differences in pain and analgesia. Progress in Brain Research 2010; 186;-157. [33] Wyatt R. Pain and Ethnicity. Virtual Mentor. 2013; 15(5); 449-454. [34] Mostoufi S, Godfrey KM, Ahumada SM, et al. Pain sensitivity in posttraumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders: a preliminary case control study. Ann Gen Psychiatry 2014; 13 (1): 31.
  7. News Article
    A community trust was told to urgently review prescribing of stimulant medications for children after concern that some were posted to families but never arrived. Bridgewater Community Healthcare Foundation Trust was told that sending prescriptions through the post may be a potentially unsafe practice by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. The warning came in a report from the college after it was invited by the trust to review its community paediatrics service The trust was urged to work with primary care and clinical commissioning groups to establish shared care for children who needed these medications. Stimulant medicines are often used for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The review also found there was a “a very significant risk for patient care” with letters, reports and prescriptions being delayed or going missing due to “recurrent issues” with the post in the building used by the team covering St Helen’s. It highlighted issues with the safeguarding procedures at the trust, with each locality team having its own processes and handling a small number of cases, and called for urgent work to streamline services. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 11 November 2020
  8. News Article
    Lockdown measures in England led to thousands fewer children receiving vital immunisations for a range of diseases include measles, diphtheria and whooping cough, Public Health England (PHE) has warned. PHE has warned parents they should continue to get their children immunised regardless of lockdown and restrictions brought on by coronavirus. During the first wave of coronavirus the government advised that children should continue to receive vaccinations as scheduled but despite these some appointments were delayed and the numbers of children vaccinated against common diseases fell compared to 2019. PHE looked at data from almost 40% of GP surgeries for use of the common 6-in-1 vaccination for diseases including diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and polio as well as uptake of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to 19 October. In total 167,322 children had the 6-in-1 vaccine, a drop of 6,600 on the same period in 2019, a fall of almost 4%. A total of 167,670 children had the MMR jab, 4,700 fewer than in 2019, a drop of 2.8%. Although the vaccinations recovered after lockdown the rates are still lower overall than 2019. Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at Public Health England, said: “Vaccines remain the best defence against infection. It’s essential we maintain the highest possible uptake to prevent a resurgence of serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases. “Routine vaccinations are still available throughout the pandemic – it’s vital that we continue to make it as easy and safe as possible for parents to take their children to appointments.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 11 November 2020
  9. Event
    This Westminster Health Forum conference will discuss the priorities for improving the health outcomes in babies and young children and the next steps for policy. It is taking place as The Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP, Government's Early Years Health Adviser - who is a keynote speaker at this conference - leads a review into improving health outcomes in babies and young children as part of the Government’s levelling up policy agenda. With the first phase of the review expected in early 2021, this conference will be an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss the priorities and latest thinking on improving health outcomes. The discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from DHSC and the DfE. The agenda: The priorities for improving health outcomes for babies and young children. Understanding the importance of the first 1,000 days in child development' Improving child public health, reducing inequalities and the impact of social adversity in childhood. Identifying measures for supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged young children and families - and learning from the COVID-19 pandemic. Priorities for system-wide collaboration to address underlying health inequalities and key opportunities for improving health outcomes in young children going forward. Next steps for the commissioning of health services for children in the early stages of life. Improving health outcomes for young children across health and care - integrating services, care pathways, workforce training, and partnership working. Register
  10. Event
    A webinar to mark the launch of the Patient Information Forum's updated 'Producing Health Information for Children and Young People' guide. The guide has been reviewed and updated for 2020 by an expert panel and will be published in November. The guide retains much of its core content but reflects new priorities including using digital tools, mental health, violence reduction and working with CYP from seldom heard groups, including looked after children and young carers. Registration
  11. Content Article
    In their previous review, the CQC found that many children and young people experiencing mental health problems don’t get the kind of care they deserve. They found that the system is complicated, with no easy or clear way to get help or support and made a number of recommendations for national, regional and local action to improve mental health care for children and young people. The CQC have followed up what action has been taken at a local level in response to their recommendations. They found that the recommendations from the 2018 report were being implemented to varying degrees. For example, while there was stronger prevalence of joint commissioning, almost one in five local health and wellbeing boards reported back that there was no joint commissioning of support for teenagers and young people as they moved to adult services. The report concludes that continued improvements are needed to make sure the CQC's local recommendations are being acted on.
  12. News Article
    A privately run child and adolescent mental health unit has been closed permanently, with its residents moved elsewhere, after concerns were raised about their safety. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said it had taken “urgent action to ensure the provider makes immediate and significant improvements” at the Cygnet Hospital in Godden Green, outside Sevenoaks in Kent, after a series of unannounced inspections last month and this month. The hospital had a CAMHs unit with up to 23 beds – details of which have been removed from the company’s website. However, only a small number of beds were occupied and these patients were either discharged or transferred to other hospitals before the unit closed on Monday. Last year Cygnet Health Care also launched a 12 bed female psychiatric intensive care unit on the site. Some of these beds have been commissioned by Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust since early this year, as there are no NHS female PICU sites in the county. This unit remains open, although the CQC said the concerns raised with it related to the safety of both PICU and CAMHs patients. Karen Bennett-Wilson, the CQC’s head of hospital inspection and lead for mental health in the south, said: “CQC has also worked closely with NHSE/I, Cygnet Healthcare and other local partners who have taken the decision to close the CAMHS unit and move the young people in the service to other care appropriate to their needs." Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 20 October 2020
  13. News Article
    Parents and professionals have been devastated by the impact of the pandemic on some of the UK’s most vulnerable patients Kelly Stoor gave birth to her daughter, Kaia, 14 weeks early. On 12 March, the midwife held her up for Kelly to see before whisking Kaia off to the neonatal unit for critical care. Kaia became seriously ill and was transferred to a hospital in Southampton, 50 miles away from home, for specialist treatment just before lockdown was imposed on 23 March. While there, she teetered on the edge of life and death for weeks and underwent life-saving surgery twice. The impact on Kelly, her husband, Max, and their other three children has been enormous. Hospital restrictions in April dictated that only one parent was allowed to visit. Both parents were not able not hold their daughter for the first time until 88 days after she was born. “It was extremely difficult,” says Kelly. “I wasn’t allowed to hold her because of Covid. I had to wear gloves if I was going to touch her. We didn’t know if she was going to make it, and Max and I weren’t allowed in together to be with her. There was one time I was with her for three hours and I couldn’t cope any more. I wanted to break.” Kelly is not alone. In the UK, at least 25,000 children are living with conditions that require palliative care support and their lives, along with those of their families, have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic and accompanying restrictions. A report by Rainbow Trust found that lockdown was a distressing experience for many; 80% of those surveyed by the charity in April said their situation was worse or much worse than before lockdown. Nearly 60% of parents, meanwhile, say that their mental health is worse than before the pandemic. Families have had to take on the strain of caring full-time for a child with a life-limiting illness, such as cancer or neurological conditions, with little to no support. There has been no respite, explains Dr Jon Rabbs, a consultant paediatrician and trustee for Rainbow Trust. When lockdown was announced, many community healthcare services had to stop face to face contact and special schools which supported children were also closed. “One of my families is at breaking point, they are so exhausted and worried,” he says. In child healthcare there have been delays, he says. Urgent treatment is always available but follow-up care has been cancelled or delayed in some places. “In my practice we have not missed any significant relapses,” he adds. “But imagine the worry not knowing whether things were going to be OK or not.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 22 October 2020
  14. News Article
    Young people's risk of becoming ill with COVID-19 is tiny - but could the long-term mental health impact of virus restrictions be far more damaging? A growing number of psychologists, psychiatrists and child health experts believe the needs of the young are being ignored in this pandemic. Prof Ellen Townsend, an expert in child and adolescent self-harm and suicide from Nottingham University, says the way students are being treated "is massively damaging for their mental health". "It doesn't make sense to lock up young people," she says. "We have to move past this one disease - a more nuanced approach is needed." She is not alone - a group of UK academics who work with children and adolescents have set up an online noticeboard collecting scientific evidence that these age groups are being forgotten by policy-makers. Problems such as self-harm and anxiety were already on the rise before lockdown, particularly among teenagers, with one in eight children and young people estimated to have a mental health condition. There is a lack of hard evidence, but research suggests growing feelings of loneliness and social isolation during the pandemic have had a negative impact. A study in The Lancet Psychiatry found children's mental health deteriorated most during that period compared with other age groups. More worrying was the "massive drop-off" in troubled children and teenagers being sent to specialist psychiatrists over several months - from 40 a day to four a day, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Although services stayed open during lockdown, either the message didn't get through or people were too frightened to make contact. The fear is that these young people could now become more seriously ill without the help they need. Eating disorders, which have a high death rate, are a particular concern. Read full story Source: BBC News, 10 October 2020
  15. News Article
    A Dublin teenager has told of his harrowing battle with COVID-19 and is urging other young people to take the disease seriously. Jack Edge, 17, from Rathfarnham, had no underlying health conditions when he contracted the virus in April. Five months on and three hospital admissions later, the Leaving Cert student is still suffering from the "destruction" the virus wreaked on his body. Jack first displayed symptoms of COVID-19 on 15 April and five days later was admitted to Tallaght University Hospital. Within hours of being hospitalised, he was fighting for his life. Jack had to be put on a ventilator to help him breathe for 12 days. As his condition stabilised, he was transferred to a high dependency unit. Jack said: "I couldn't sleep for three days. Every time I closed my eyes, there was just dizziness and loads of colours. "I literally stayed in the bed for 72 hours, just staring at the wall. I had a lot of dark times in the hospital, since I do struggle with anxiety too." "But the care I received was absolutely amazing. They came in and talked to me if I needed to talk, as I would often get lonely, as it was mainly just me in an isolation room." However, surviving COVID-19 was just the first step for Jack. On 28 May, he was readmitted to hospital in excruciating pain. Doctors told him he may have suffered nerve damage associated with the virus. "I’m currently taking 18-20 tablets a day. Tablets for the nerve damage, for pain and for my anxiety. " "I basically have to learn to walk again. I do two to two-and-a-half hours of physio every day, depending on how much energy I have. I wake up some days and I get really upset. I still don’t know why this happened to me or how I got it." Jack hopes that by sharing his story he can raise awareness of the dangers and debilitating long-term effects of COVID-19 for young people. Read full story Source: RTE News, 2 October 2020
  16. News Article
    Over the past few months, we have been living in unprecedented and uncertain times as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Lockdown measures, school closures and social distancing have all had a substantial impact on the way we live our lives. But, what have been the experiences of children, young people and their families during this time? And how has children’s well-being been affected? Our well-being research Every year we (The Children's Society) measure the well-being of children in the UK through a regular survey, with the findings presented in our Good Childhood Report. This research has shown how, since 2009, children’s well-being in this country has been in decline. In our 2020 survey, we included a number of questions to gauge the impact of Covid-19 and the resulting social distancing/lockdown measures on children’s lives. The survey was completed between April and June, when the UK was in lockdown. Our latest briefing, Life on Hold, brings together the findings of these survey questions about Covid-19, together with children’s own accounts. Read the full article and findings here.
  17. Content Article
    The report identified five essential learnings: More than half of adults and over two thirds of young people said that their mental health has gotten worse during the period of lockdown restrictions, from early April to mid-May. Restrictions on seeing people, being able to go outside and worries about the health of family and friends are the key factors driving poor mental health. Boredom is also a major problem for young people. Loneliness has been a key contributor to poor mental health. Feelings of loneliness have made nearly two thirds of people’s mental health worse during the past month, with 18–24 year olds the most likely to see loneliness affect their mental health. Many people do not feel entitled to seek help, and have difficulty accessing it when they do. 1 in 3 adults and more than 1 in 4 young people did not access support during lockdown because they did not think that they deserved support. A quarter of adults and young people who tried to access support were unable to do so. Not feeling comfortable using phone/video call technology has been one of the main barriers to accessing support.
  18. News Article
    African American children are three times more likely than their white peers to die after surgery despite arriving at hospitals without serious underlying conditions, the latest evidence of unequal outcomes in health care, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, “We know that traditionally, African Americans have poorer health outcomes across every age strata you can look at,” said Olubukola Nafiu, the lead researcher and an anaesthesiologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “One of the explanations that’s usually given for that, among many, is that African American patients tend to have higher comorbidities. They tend to be sicker.” But his research challenges that explanation, he said, by finding a racial disparity even among otherwise healthy children who came to hospitals for mostly elective surgeries. Out of 172,549 children, 36 died within a month of their operation. But of those children, nearly half were black – even though African Americans made up 11% of the patients overall. Black children had a 0.07% chance of dying after surgery, compared with 0.02% for white children. Postoperative complications and serious adverse events were also more likely among the black patients and they were more likely to require a blood transfusion, experience sepsis, have an unplanned second operation or be unexpectedly intubated. Read full story Source: The Independent, 20 July 2020
  19. News Article
    Every child in Scotland will need additional mental health support as a consequence of measures taken to tackle the coronavirus crisis, according to the country’s children and young people’s commissioner. Speaking exclusively to the Guardian as he publishes Scotland’s comprehensive assessment of the impact of the pandemic on children’s rights – the first such review undertaken anywhere in the world – Bruce Adamson said the pandemic had sent a “very negative” message about how decision-makers value young people’s voices. He said Scotland has been viewed as a children’s rights champion but that efforts to involve young people in the dramatic changes being made to their education and support “went out the window as soon as lockdown came along”. There have been escalating concerns across the UK about children’s mental health after support structures were stripped away at the start of lockdown. Earlier this week, the Guardian revealed that five children with special educational needs have killed themselves in the space of five months in Kent, amidst warnings over the impact of school closures on pupils. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 16 July 2020