DOCTORS in Sheffield are giving parents a new guide on how to treat common childhood illnesses, to try to reduce the strain on hospital facilities.
New figures show most youngsters visiting Sheffield Children’s Hospital accident and emergency unit do not need to be there at all, with 74 per cent of visitors over the last 12 months discharged with no further treatment.
Like Sheffield’s adult hospitals, the city’s children’s hospital has seen a rise in the number of patients visiting A&E - from 41,670 in 2007/8 to 45,170 in 2011/12 - an 8.4 per cent increase.
And the rise has been most extreme in visits from babies under the age of one, with a 25 per cent increase over the same period.
NHS Sheffield is trying to tackle the trend by distributing new guidelines about common complaints to parents.
Some 14,000 booklets have been printed listing symptoms and treatments for coughs, colds, high temperatures and rashes.
Dr Richard Oliver, clinical director of NHS Sheffield and a GP in Ecclesfield, visited parents at Thorncliffe Park Day Nursery in Chapeltown to explain the new advice.
He told The Star: “We’ve been trying to give parents advice about what to do with common problems.
“For example, what to do when your child has a cough or a temperature.
“From a parent’s point of view any child who is unwell creates anxiety. We are trying to give them some help about when anxiety is appropriate or not.”
Donna Gray, aged 40, from Burncross, mum to three-year-old Sophie, said: “What they are doing is really helpful. You do panic when you see that first rash - you just worry when they are this little. We always hear in the news about shortages of doctors, so this is a good way to bring down the numbers of people visiting the hospital.”
n The new guidelines are available online by logging on to www.sheffield.nhs.uk and searching ‘common conditions’. For a hard copy call Sophie Jones on 0114 3051089.