Flu or Flu-like illness in chronically ill or disabled children

A&E and the hospital ward

During flu or flu-like illness, some of the parents we spoke to had taken their child to Accident & Emergency (A&E) or to the children’s ward when they were worried that they were getting seriously ill and they felt they needed medical tests or treatment.
Naomi took her daughter to A&E because her sugar level was high and she was worried she would develop Diabetic Ketoacidosis. One Sunday, Michelle just knew Jack, who has complex medical needs, was poorly so she took him to A&E to get a medical opinion. Sometimes parents had been referred to A&E or the children’s ward after seeing their GP or phoning 111.
Parents sometimes called an emergency ambulance to take their children to hospital because they had suddenly become very ill at home.
Most parents used A & E as a last resort because they found long waiting times were extremely difficult, especially if a child was failing to breathe properly. A & E was not seen by most parents as the best place to take a very sick child. Some parents felt that getting a sick child through triage took too long and was extremely stressful.

Georgina and Nia felt their sons should have had special treatment when they arrived at A&E because of their long term medical condition or disability.
Sometimes the A&E staff were prompt in sending for a paediatrician but parents also recalled junior or less experienced A&E doctors who had not recognised how ill their child was getting. Alessio had seizures whilst waiting for treatment in A & E, so his consultant telephoned the A&E consultant to advise that they treated him differently if he needed to come again.
At the Children’s ward 

Some parents decided to go straight to the children’s ward where they knew they could take their child if they felt they needed to see the specialist medical team. Rebecca said that having open access to the ward for her son was very helpful, ‘it gives you peace of mind because you know that you can just cut out the middle man.’
Most parents were very positive about the children’s ward. Parents said that one of the benefits of having direct access to the ward was that the doctors knew their children. Mirella liked that it was a familiar environment for her three year old son which made it less of a stressful experience for him.
On the ward children were assessed and usually various tests were taken. If children did not need to be admitted to hospital as an inpatient they were usually sent home with treatment, such as antibiotics or steroids, depending on their child’s long term medical condition. Now Kwame is older he is less likely to need to stay overnight and usually stays three or four hours on the ward before he is sent home.

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