Meningitis Now staff - Jane Blewitt

Uncertainty around accessing medical care for illnesses including meningitis

Jane Blewitt | 9th September 2021

The first UK lockdown saw a dramatic reduction in the number of children attending primary or emergency care. This created concern that a fear of the coronavirus could potentially delay the treatment of a seriously ill or injured child

BeArH - Results of survey to understand how lockdown affected caring for ill children

In collaboration with parents, an online survey was developed to help understand how the lockdown may have affected the way parents sought help, or cared for, their sick or injured child. Meningitis Now helped to advertise the survey through social media.

The survey was fully completed by 198 UK parents. The majority sought help from either their GP, national helplines or A&E departments. 

Most parents reported that although their own decision-making hadn’t changed, the way in which they sought and received help had changed. 

  • Positive experiences included receiving detailed advice about care at home and what to do if the child deteriorated, GP video and phone consultations, and helpful follow-up calls. 
  • Negative experiences included fear of Covid-19, which in some cases led to long delays in seeking and receiving help. Some parents didn’t always report symptoms of potentially serious illness. 
  • Difficulty in accessing NHS 111 was a repeated concern and parents reported accessing information on the internet that was sometimes inconsistent or confusing.

Although most of the parents who completed the survey were not deterred from seeking help, the changes to services during lockdown created uncertainty about, and barriers to, accessing medical help.

The findings of this survey - together with previous research showing that parents may not always recognise potentially serious signs of illness in their children - support the need for easy access to reliable, consistent information about what to do and where to access appropriate help when a child is sick or injured.

Read the full research paper here.