Hundreds of Sheffield kids hospitalised with breathing conditions

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Hundreds of young children were taken to hospital with respiratory conditions in Sheffield last winter, figures show.

Five years ago the number of such admissions stood at 1,178 - which was said to be the highest in England at the time.

But that number has reduced to 496 in the most recent winter period - and health chiefs hope it will be more in line with the national average once data from other health trusts is published.

Tim Furness, director of business planning and partnerships at NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “In the past Sheffield has had a higher recorded number of emergency admissions for nought to four year olds with respiratory conditions than the rest of the country, which we believe is partly due to a difference in how this activity was counted in Sheffield compared to the rest of the country.

“This has now been rectified.

“In addition we have introduced new guidance for GPs to help them manage non-urgent respiratory illnesses in the community, as well as developed the ‘Itchy, Wheezy, Sneezy’ project which has seen allergy care clinics for children open across Sheffield to deal with mild to moderate asthma and hay fever.

“As a result of all this we have seen a huge reduction in recorded admissions from 1,154 over the six month winter period in 2013/14 to 496 over the six month winter period in 2014-15.”

The figures were revealed in a ‘Best Start Strategy’ document that will go before Sheffield councillors next week. It aims to address inequalities and set out how early years’ services will be delivered.

It is not said that the admissions are linked to Sheffield’s poor air quality - although a separate report said it was closely associated with hospital admissions for heart disease and breathing problems.

Sheffield is currently missing EU air quality targets and it is ‘not likely’ to be below the legal limit until 2020 at the earliest.

The Best Start strategy notes that the highest use of A&E attendance is in the most deprived areas where rates are up to 50 per cent above average.

It also shows sudden infant death rates in Sheffield are higher than the national average - and concentrated in deprived areas.

The number of women smoking during pregnancy is also a cause for concern, as it is higher than the average.

Jayne Ludlam, the council’s executive director for children, young people and families, said: “These figures of course are concerning and that is exactly why we have a strategy which recognises the challenges and aims to reduce them.”

She said the council was increasing the number of health workers to support new mums.