Know what to do if your child is unwell this winter

23 November 2017

Winter can be bad for our health, and children are more vulnerable to coughs, colds and infections because their immune system is still developing. Parents and carers of young children in Havering are being reminded that many common childhood illnesses can be managed easily at home with over the counter medication and rest.

Winter is the busiest time for the NHS, with GPs and hospitals under significant pressure. A&E is for life-threatening accidents and emergencies only, and is not the best place for a child to be if they have a minor illness or injury.

Dr Atul Aggarwal, a local GP and chair of Havering Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “All parents worry when their child is poorly, and it be difficult to know the best way to care for them when they become ill.

“We’re asking parents to remember that A&E isn’t the place to go for any problem – it’s for the most serious cases only. Our A&E departments are always under pressure over winter and this year is no exception.

“To help parents of young children know what to do when their child is unwell, we’ve created quick and easy information at your fingertips. Use your phone to see this information online on our website and get advice on what to do if your child has a fever, cough and cold or experiencing an upset tummy.”

The new leaflet, which was put together by local healthcare professionals, explains common illnesses and injuries children and babies experience – everything from bumps and bruises to tonsillitis and breathing difficulties. It tells you how to care for and treat these illnesses, and what NHS service is most appropriate if medical advice is needed. You can find the leaflet and information here.

Aber Eaqub, paediatric consultant at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

“It’s always very worrying for parents when their child is unwell, that’s why this guide is invaluable as it provides practical advice of what to do and where to go. 

“Lots of common ailments in children can easily and quickly be dealt with at home with medicine cupboard essentials, or by visiting your GP. There is also an out-of-hours GP service, as well as walk-in centres where children can be seen late into the evening and at weekends. 

“Getting the care your child needs in the right place will ensure they are treated more quickly and put your mind a rest. It will also allow us to focus on the most seriously ill or injured children in our Children’s Emergency Department.”

Don’t forget pharmacists are also healthcare experts. They can advise you on many childhood illness which can be best managed at home, and what the appropriate over the counter medicines are for your child’s age.”

Parents are encouraged to plan ahead and ensure there is a first aid kit at home with essentials, such as: 

  • Liquid paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • A thermometer – always test your child’s temperature before contacting or visiting a health professional. Visit www.nhs.uk for details on how to care for a child with a high temperature
  • Antiseptic cream and plasters
  • Oral rehydration solution suitable for your child’s age.

Remember your local pharmacist can help with all of these.

During the winter period there is plenty of advice available from your local pharmacists and NHS 111. The NHS 111 service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and the free telephone service is staffed by trained advisors and experienced clinicians who can assess and offer advice and direct you to the right place.

Most infections are viral infections which cannot be treated by antibiotics. This includes cold and flu so help is best provided by a pharmacist rather than a GP. If your child has an upset tummy or flu it’s best to keep them away from the elderly and other children, who can be vulnerable to infection.

For more advice on staying well this winter www.nhs.uk/staywell