A&E departments flooded with children with mild fevers causing ‘winter in June’

Doctors are warning anxious parents not to take their child into A&E if it’s a simple fever as a dramatic rise in cases is causing a “winter in June”.

Three Royal Colleges have issued advice for parents concerned over mild fevers as some departments have this month seen “the highest number ever” of children in emergency departments.

One A&E reported more cases in 24 hours on Monday than they’ve ever seen before, while statistics from four hospitals shows an increase of children under 15 from 15,954 in 2018 to 23,661 this year.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) and the Royal College are urging parents to refrain from putting unnecessary pressure on A&E departments when they should be left for those who are “seriously unwell”.

Has your child had a ‘winter’ bug this summer? Email [email protected] and tell us your story.

Parents should seek professional advice from NHS 111, their GP or chemist if their child has a mild fever

It is believed it is parents who haven’t seen a fever in their child before – particularly if their baby was born during lockdown – who are most concerned, the reports reads.

Describing the rise, Dr Dan Magnus, consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children said: “We had an incredibly busy week last week – in fact on Monday we set a new record for the number of children seen in 24hrs in our department ever, and that’s in the middle of summer.

“We are effectively running a winter-level ED response in the summertime.”

Guidance urges parents to call 111, the GP or seek advice from a chemist if their child has a mild fever, rather than taking them straight to hospital.

The spike in cases has been linked to a rise in respiratory infections such as RSV (respiratory synctial virus) and bronchiolitis, paraflu, and rhinovirus, all of which produce symptoms of coughs, runny nose and fever.

While they are predominant in winter, children are contracting the infections now due to the lifting of Covid lockdown and them coming into contact with other children again.

child with temperature
Paracetamol or Ibuprofen should help bring the fever down and make the child feel better in a few days

For most children, treatment with child’s paracetamol or ibuprofen is usually enough to reduce the fever and to improve the child’s condition in a few days.

The colleges, however, stress that parents should always seek medical advice or take the child to A&E if:

Dr Camilla Kingdon, president of the RCPCH, said: “Many emergency departments are currently overwhelmed and there has been a particularly steep rise in the number of young children presenting.

“Some have seen the highest ever numbers of children in their department and waiting times can be huge.

“The biggest increase we’re seeing is in children with mild fever. Fevers are very common in young children and usually aren’t serious.

“But many parents haven’t seen fever in their child before and are worried, particularly if they don’t have their usual sources of support to turn to, such as parent groups.

“With departments already under huge pressure, we need to make sure that services are available for children who are seriously unwell.”

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