A new service is set to launch this week to assess children and young people for the long term effects of Covid-19.
From Monday 16 August, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust will begin accepting referrals for its new Paediatric Long Covid Assessment Service, serving patients and professionals across the Humber, Coast and Vale Integrated Care System (ICS).
The service will review children from Hull and the East Riding, as well as those referred in by paediatricians in other parts of the Humber, Coast and Vale region which includes areas such as York, Scarborough, Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole.
The establishment of the service follows national announcements made in recent months for multi-million pound investment in services to support those suffering from the effects of Long Covid, including children and young people.
Dr Chris Wood, consultant paediatrician for Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust says:
“The new service is designed to assess young patients experiencing long-term health effects following Covid-19 infection. While we know young people have been less severely physically impacted by Covid-19 at the infection stage than older people, with a much lower level of hospitalisation for example, we still don’t know for sure how the virus can or will affect children going forward.
“There have been numerous reports of children experiencing the same or similar Long Covid symptoms to adults such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating and mobility issues, so our service is designed to look at those and then make recommendations as to the best course of treatment and support.”
The Paediatric Long Covid Service will only accept referrals from either hospital or community based paediatricians. Demand is expected to be high, so it is important that local district general hospitals seek to address or rule out more routine causes of a child’s health problems before a referral to the assessment service is made.
GPs will not be able to refer directly into the service and parents will not be able to self-refer their child. However, parents are encouraged to make an appointment with their GP in the first instance if they are worried their child may be exhibiting potential Long Covid symptoms which may require assessment by a local paediatrician and/or subsequent referral into the Paediatric Long Covid Assessment Service as appropriate. For Long Covid to be diagnosed, symptoms should have continued for at least 12 weeks after the original infection and other causes of those symptoms considered and excluded.
Assessment will take place through multi-disciplinary team meetings where experts come together to review a child’s history and current symptoms. In some circumstances, clinic-based face-to-face assessment will be necessary and some virtual/video appointments may also be offered.
Dr Wood continues:
“Our role is to look at the whole picture and then advise children and their families, local hospitals and clinicians on how each child’s symptoms could best be managed. Hull will not provide treatment for all the children we assess, except where we would ordinarily be the child’s local hospital; instead the intention is for children to receive any treatment they do need as close to home as possible, normally through their own district general hospital or associated community service.”
The Hull based Paediatric Long Covid Assessment Service is one of five to operate in the NHS North East and Yorkshire region, and one of just 16 to be set up across the country.