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Rise in emergency admissions for babies and young children

A report has found that many emergency department admissions for babies and young children could have been avoided with better care and support in community settings.

Emergency department admissions for babies and young children have risen by almost a third in a decade, a report has found.


There has been a disproportionate increase in admissions of young children to emergency
departments over the past decade.

The report by the Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation also found that many admissions could have been avoided with better care and support in community settings.

Conditions such as asthma and tonsillitis, for example, are responsible for many admissions and could be managed outside of hospital.

The report is based on an in-depth analysis of patient records that examined emergency hospital care from 2006-7 and 2015-16.

Nuffield Trust research analyst and lead author for the study Eilís Keeble said: 'Children and young people are frequent users of emergency services. While not all emergency hospital admissions can be prevented, our research found that, despite some improvements, many children are still treated in an emergency setting for chronic conditions such as asthma.

Struggle for services

'This study provides a useful insight into areas where demand for hospital services could be reduced if more appropriate care and support is provided to children and young people early on.'

Commenting on the report, RCN professional lead for children and young people Fiona Smith said: 'Parents naturally want to access the best possible care for their children, yet many urgent care centres still do not have nurses with the specific skills to treat children and young people.

'Only one third of GPs have child-specific training. We need to ensure parents have good access to nurses and other health professionals with the right knowledge and skills to treat children.

'The increase in short-term emergency admissions highlighted by this report could be a sign parents and young people still struggle to access the right services.'

Spike in admissions 

The research finds emergency hospital admissions for the under 25s have grown by 14% over the past decade, compared with 20% for the entire population.

Yet admissions for babies has risen by 30% in 10 years, with young children also experiencing a disproportionate increase in emergency admissions.

The authors say more research is needed to understand these trends.

In addition, the study shows:

  • The number of babies admitted to an emergency for jaundice more than doubled, from 8,186 cases in 2006-07 to 16,491 cases in 2015-16.
  • Admissions for viral infections for children and young people under the age of 25 more than doubled, from 42,243 to 91,386 cases.
  • Children and young people admitted for acute and chronic tonsillitis, of which a proportion were potentially preventable, rose by 68 per cent, to 37,549.

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