Always get medical help for your child if you think something’s not right

As a parent or carer, you know your child better than anyone. That is why it’s important to get medical help if you think your child is unwell or you are worried about them.

Dr Patience Okorie
Dr Patience Okorie

Research has shown that nearly half of the public have had concerns about seeking help from the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some have been worried about the risks of catching the virus and others have not wanted to be a burden on the health service.

While the NHS across Sussex has been working hard to manage coronavirus, it has also been making sure that people can access essential services safely when they are needed.

Get the right care for your child

Dr Patience Okorie, Clinical Lead for the Clinical Commissioning Groups across Sussex, said: “We want to make sure that parents and carers know they can still use all the normal services to get help for their child while we’re dealing with the pandemic.

"GP practices, NHS 111, A&Es and urgent treatment centres are still open for patients to use. If your child is unwell or you are worried about them, you should still call your GP or, if it is out of hours, contact NHS 111 on the phone or online.”

GP practices across Sussex have changed the way they work to ensure that patients remain safe and get the care they need during the coronavirus pandemic. Additional safety measures protect patients and staff, with initial telephone and online assessments to enable practices to prioritise appointments for those most in need.

Those who need GP appointments are still being asked to contact their surgeries as normal for care and not to attend their practice without an appointment.

Mohammed and Huma Abbas

To help prevent the spread of the disease, you must not attend your GP surgery if you think you or your child might have coronavirus. You should call them or contact NHS 111 instead.

A&E departments and urgent treatment centres also remain open for serious or life-threatening emergencies. After a big fall in the number of people visiting A&E at the start of the pandemic, they are much busier again now, particularly as some of the lockdown restrictions are eased.

“We’re still seeing lots of children coming in with the usual concerns such as asthma, appendicitis and injuries,” said Dr Emily Walton, consultant in the children’s emergency department at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton.

“It’s important to stress that although the NHS is working hard to respond to coronavirus, we’re still here for other emergencies and urgent care if you need us.

“If parents of young children suspect something is wrong, it’s important they seek the appropriate medical help.”

Babies and children should also continue to have routine vaccinations if they are due.

“They’re so important to protect against serious and potentially deadly illnesses and stop outbreaks in the community, such as measles, mumps and meningitis,” said Dr Okorie.

If the child needing vaccination has coronavirus symptoms, or someone in their household has symptoms, you should contact you GP for advice first.

“Professional advice from the comfort of our home”

Teyyiba Abbas was concerned when her two children, Mohammed (4) and Huma (6), both developed a nasty cough at the start of June.

She said: “It started as a dry cough and then went to their chests. They didn’t have any other symptoms of coronavirus, but the cough wasn’t going away and I wanted to get them checked out.”

She wasn’t sure if she’d still be able to make a GP appointment and called her surgery for advice.

“They were great. The receptionist said the doctor would call me back. A little later I got a call from my GP who asked a few questions about the children, their cough and whether they had a fever, which they didn’t.

“She said she didn’t think it was anything to worry about, but wanted to see them so she could assess them properly.”

Teyyiba’s GP then texted a link to her phone which opened up a private video call.

“She chatted with the children,” explained Teyyiba, “and checked they had no difficulty breathing. She reassured me that from what I had told her, and from seeing the children herself, that there was nothing to worry about. She talked me through the medicines and care I could give them at home.”

Mohammed and Huma were quickly back to full health and Teyyiba is full of praise for the help she received from her GP surgery.

She said: “It was brilliant to be able to get that professional care and advice all in one day, on my phone, from the comfort of our own home.”

Looking after a poorly child

Most children who are poorly bounce back quickly. But it’s important to keep an eye on them and there’s lots you can do to help them on the road to recovery.Check your child during the night to make sure they aren’t getting worseOffer your child regular drinks. For breastfeeding babies, breast milk is bestIf a rash appears, do the ‘glass test’ (see below)Children with a temperature should not be under- or over-dressed.

Using painkillers

If your child is distressed or very unwell you may use paracetamol or ibuprofen to help them feel more comfortable.Read the instructions on the bottle to check the right dose and frequencyDon’t give both paracetamol and ibuprofen at the same time. Give one and, if your child has not improved after 2-3 hours, try the otherYour pharmacist can give you advice about medicines for your child.

The ‘glass test’

Do the ‘glass test’ if your child has a rash. Press a glass tumbler firmly against the rash. If you can see the spots through the glass and they do not fade as you press the glass on to the skin, seek medical advice immediately or call 999. The rash may be harder to see on dark skin, so check paler areas such as palms of the hands, soles of the feet and tummy.