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

Contacting the GP and out of hours GP service

After managing their child’s flu or flu-like illness at home, some parents we spoke to decided they needed medical advice or felt that their child needed further treatment. Usually the GP, or the out of hours GP service, was their first point of contact.
When there is a trusting relationship and their child’s condition is already well understood by the GP, parents knew they could ring and get advice from their GP, explain what was happening, and if appropriate, get a prescription over the phone. Getting a sick child with complex health needs to the GP surgery often added to parental stress.
The priority for most parents was to get the child to a GP within a few hours, so that they could be assessed and start taking medication as soon as possible. Some GP practices offered good access and same day appointments which reassured the parents but appointment systems were sometimes inflexible, inaccesible or disrupted the continuity of care. It could slow everything down when they had to see a new GP, or an out of hours doctor who didn’t know them and understand the child’s underlying condition.
Parents often described good working relationships with their GP service and said they had worked out with their doctor what to do if the same thing happened again.
Out of hours GP 

If the child became ill when their GP practice was closed, parents usually contacted the out of hours GP service, attended a Walk in clinic (if there was one in their area) or made an appointment via 111 for an out of hours service at their local hospital.
Lyndey prefers the out of hours GP because the wait is around 45 minutes rather than 4 hours in A&E. The out of hours service is open all night and in her local town. Georgina prefers to take Alessio to the out of hours GP because he has autism and A&E is such a stressful environment.
Although the out of hours GP service was valued by these parents, not knowing the doctor had its drawbacks. Damien, whose son has Cri du Chat Syndrome, said it was stressful when he needed to explain his son’s medical history each time. Parents said that they often felt that they had to justify the need for antibiotics to an unfamiliar or out of hours doctor.
Naomi did not feel confident about their GP’s knowledge of her daughter’s condition and preferred to go straight to the hospital.
Some other parents chose to go straight to the hospital - either to the children’s ward or to Accident and Emergency. 

See also ‘Managing flu or flu-like illness at home’, ‘Communicating with health professionals’, ‘Parents views on the benefits of antibiotics’.


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