COVID-19: are children’s nurses prepared for a second wave?

As young people return to education, we must be ready for a resurgence in the COVID-19 pandemic

Students wearing face masks at school.
Students wearing face masks at school. Picture: iStock

As we move into autumn, and with winter approaching, children’s nurses are faced with more questions than answers.

In an attempt to mitigate a backlog of missed treatments, elective surgeries, clinics and research are being prioritised and recommenced.

Delivery of some aspects of healthcare has been transformed, even revolutionised, but we, as children’s nurses, still have a duty of care to our patients.

Children and young people continued to present unwell or injured throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, although the epidemiology may have evolved.

The return to schools, colleges and higher education in the UK after months of lockdown will emphasise their invaluable contribution to the health and well-being of children and young people.

However, the return will give society an indication of the physical, social and psychological effects of isolation on children and young people, and their families.

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We children’s nurses must also be prepared to take the lead during another lockdown, whether local or national.

We are busy in the preparation of winter surge plans, as we are this time every year, but this time with the added pressure of COVID-19.

Knowing that children’s physical health has not been affected as much as that of adults during the pandemic, the questions from front-line nurses heading into winter are simple: Do we have we enough personal protective equipment? Do we have enough nurses? Can we deliver safe care? Is there an end in sight?

We seemed to have forgotten many of the lessons about pandemic management from history; now, reflection on the first wave of COVID-19 will educate and guide us going forward. Time will tell if our response is the right one.

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Carli Whittaker is consultant editor, Nursing Children and Young People