Covid: With NHS under real pressure, parents should speak to their children about avoiding accidental injury – Dr Graeme Eunson

Summertime, particularly during the school holidays, is a peak period for injuries such as fractures and sprains among children.

Parents should try to keep an extra eye on their kids to stop them taking risks like scaling high trees (Picture: Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

It’s to be expected: they’re outdoors more often, playing on trampolines, riding their bikes; in general running around having fun the way you expect children to do when the sun is shining and they’re off school.

Now, more than ever, it’s vitally important that our youngsters avoid unnecessary trips to A&E. Of course, it’s easier said than done when many parents and carers are trying to juggle working from home with childcare, but even just a reminder to kids to be careful and take it easy could result in them being less likely to suffer injury.

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It’s no secret our NHS is under great pressure as it tries to cope with the ongoing pandemic, while also desperately trying to tackle the backlog of patients whose appointments or treatments were put on hold last year. Fewer everyday injuries among children will mean less strain on hospitals during this particularly challenging time.

As a paediatric consultant and parent myself, I know what I’m asking is tricky – it’s not easy to keep an eye on your children 24/7 and it’s certainly not easy trying to explain yourself over and over when they ask you for the umpteenth time why you’re telling them to take it easy. And of course it’s not just the kids who need to slow down – as road users we all have a responsibility to slow down in town and make our streets a safer place.

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Running around is a part of life for kids, and the advice to get outside and exercise – not to mention take advantage of the vitamin D boost we’re getting from all this sunshine – is something I’m entirely on board with.

But if we could just try, all of us, to keep an extra eye on our kids and prevent them from undertaking more risky endeavours, such as trying to jump higher than they ever have before on their trampoline, climbing on frames three times their height, or scaling high trees, it would make a big difference.

By being a little more vigilant, we’ll help our kids on two levels: firstly, they’re less likely to suffer injury, and secondly, if they are injured, they’ll be more likely to receive appropriate treatment in a much more timely manner if everybody is being that extra bit more careful.

This is particularly important for people who are staycationing across Scotland right now, with many heading off to rural areas with much smaller hospitals and subsequently fewer staff and resources to cope with an onslaught of potential injuries and ailments.

Anything we can do to help reduce the pressure on the NHS will go a long way to getting us out of the situation we find ourselves in. I understand there are still going to be injuries of course, we’re not going to avoid it completely, but we are in choppy waters and I want to ensure that children get the absolute best care possible.

Everyone can do their bit. Enjoy the summer as much as you can – and while I’ve got your attention, please remember sun safety!

Dr Graeme Eunson, chair of the BMA’s Scottish consultants committee and consultant paediatrician in Borders General Hospital

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