What has been the impact of Covid-19 on health care for children and young people in England?
QualityWatch is a Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation programme.
Although the direct effects of Covid-19 on children and young people are usually milder than for older age groups, the pandemic’s effect on the overall health and care of the youngest generation has nonetheless been extensive.
Young people with long-term conditions are less likely to say they receive enough support from local services than adults, and both groups’ views on feeling supported have continued to worsen during the pandemic.
As the pandemic struck there was a huge reduction in referrals from GPs to hospital care for children and young people.
Since then, urgent referrals have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.
This may be a worrying sign of deterioration in children's health.
With the country emerging from lockdown, the waiting list for planned paediatric hospital care grew by 22% in seven months, leaving 300,465 children and young people waiting.
It’s also taking longer for children with suspected cancer to be seen by a consultant.
For serious cases like this the NHS sets itself a two-week target for seeing patients with the aim of faster diagnosis and treatment.
And demand for mental health services is soaring.
Eating disorders have been an area of particular concern since the pandemic hit.
And despite the numbers starting treatment increasing, many children are having to wait longer and longer for help.
This has had serious consequences.
A&E attendances for eating disorders for children and young people doubled during the pandemic.
People use A&E as a last resort, and young people with mental health concerns wait significantly longer for help in these settings.
The pandemic’s effect on children and young people’s health, care and wellbeing has been dramatic and concerning, particularly with regard to mental health.
Access to timely care is being severely compromised. Early intervention and treatment is especially important for young people, so this could have lifelong consequences.
Services are facing an uphill battle to recover. More support and funding is needed to prioritise children’s health and avoid disadvantaging a generation.
Delve deeper into the impact Covid-19 has had on young people and their futures as we explore the issues further and take a more detailed look at the data.Read the briefing
QualityWatch tracks over 200 care quality indicators to monitor whether health and social care quality in England is getting better or worse.Visit QualityWatch