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Report Warns of a Chronic Shortage of Paediatric Consultants During Busy Periods

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has produced a report this month highlighting the pressures on paediatric services and warning that health services “cannot continue” in their present form. In particular, the audit found that around only 6% of paediatric care units had a senior consultant on site at peak times at the weekend. This figure increased only slightly to 10% between the hours of 5pm and 10pm during the week.

The RCPCH report states that the provision of ‘bare minimum’ cover during busy periods has unfortunately become common in a majority of acute paediatric care units throughout the country. Dr Hilary Cass, who is President for the RCPCH, has considered the report and has called for the UK to urgently revisit the provision of health services for children and young people in the UK.

This failure to provide a satisfactory quality of care comes at a time when the NHS has introduced the new NHS 111 phone line which is designed to alleviate pressure on such paediatric care units. It is therefore of concern that the British Medical Association has called for the Government to delay the full introduction of the NHS 111 phone line as it is presently in chaos. The failure to adequately screen calls so as to determine if a caller is in need of emergency assistance has resulted in unprecedented numbers being admitted to hospital in some parts of the UK.

Reflecting upon the report from the RCPCH, children and young people may want to hope that their admission is not during busy periods if they wish to be assured of receiving the best possible quality of care.