Sheffield children’s trust welcomes move to include children in UK public inquiry into Covid pandemic

Sheffield has welcomed the move to consider the impact of the Covid pandemic on children as part of the UK public inquiry which is due to start next year.

Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 10:12 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st May 2022, 10:13 am

Ruth Brown, the chief executive of Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust said it is 'absolutely critical' that children are included, as the pandemic had a significant impact on their mental health and well-being.

The terms for the UK public inquiry into the handling of the Covid pandemic were first drafted in March, but there was criticism that they failed to mention the impact on children and young people.

However, following a public consultation, the final terms have been published and now include the impact on children's health, well-being, and education.

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Ruth Brown, the chief executive of Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust said it is 'absolutely critical' that children are included, as the pandemic had a significant impact on their mental health and well-being.

Ms Brown said: "During Covid and the pandemic, we had a big role in being a sanctuary for children for those who needed care, so during an emergency operation, we cared for them.

"Obviously, lots of children who needed support as being part of their families as well needed support during that time, so we gave a lot of resources like mental health resources that helped families, children and young people.

"One of the biggest challenges was that children weren't accessing school in the same way, so not only were they not accessing school, they weren't socialising with their families, friends and groups."

Mrs Brown added the review's inclusion of children is 'extremely important' as the pandemic highlighted the 'health inequalities'.

She explained: "One of the things we've been looking at is how we use our information, how we target any particular area around supporting areas of the city and South Yorkshire and beyond in how we help to support reducing health inequalities because the pandemic has had a big impact on different populations as well and so that will obviously require a lot of recovery for that."

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Cooperation with public health departments

She said the trust has been working with the public health departments to understand what the impact is by using the intelligence they have got across schools.

“This is to understand the impact of the pandemic and what action we can take together on it. So a lot of our community teams are out with different other health and care and voluntary organisations in Sheffield who will be coming together in different communities to work out how we support those communities in different ways,” she said.

"And one of the biggest areas is education just how much the impact on children not gong to school during that time and being home schooled and all of that is going to have a big impact on children and their physical health and well being as well.”

The inquiry's public hearings will be chaired by former High Court judge Baroness Hallett.

The final terms of reference were decided following a four-week public consultation on the draft terms.

The final terms of reference were determined after a four-week public consultation on the proposed terms.

In addition to expanding the scope to include the impact on the health, well-being, and education of children and young people, the investigation will also examine the population-wide mental health impact.