Emergency hospital care for children and young people

What has changed in the past 10 years? | QualityWatch

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This short research summary explores how children and young people’s use of emergency care has changed over the past 10 years and seeks to understand what this might mean for care quality.

Emergency care across the NHS in England is under great pressure. The number of people attending Accident & Emergency (A&E) departments is at an all-time high demand for beds is also at record levels and the four-hour A&E target (of seeing 95 per cent of patients arriving at A&E within four hours) has not been met since July 2013.

Discussion of the pressures on emergency care within the NHS tends to focus predominantly on older people. This is understandable – the over 65s account for the majority of emergency bed days in NHS hospitals, stay longer in A&E than the rest of the population and are more likely to be admitted to hospital in an emergency.

However, children and young people – defined as people under the age of 25 – are also frequent users of emergency care, attending A&E more frequently than the adult population. Their healthcare needs can be very different from adults, meaning they often require specialist support, and – like older people – they can be particularly vulnerable and dependent on carers.

Download the full report here

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