Paediatrics: Intensive Care

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 25 January 2023.

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Photo of Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Non-affiliated

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they will take to ensure that hospitals can manage the influx of respiratory related paediatric intensive care patients; and what lessons they have learned from the COVID-19 pandemic in this regard.

Photo of Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Non-affiliated

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they will take to reduce the number of infant respiratory virus-related appointments (1) this winter, and (2) in future years.

Photo of Lord Markham Lord Markham The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The National Health Service has surge plans in place which include mutual aid between hospitals and paediatric specialists to ensure hospitals can manage and monitor influxes of respiratory-related paediatric intensive care patients and infections. NHS England has also set out its overall plan for increasing the NHS’s operational capacity and resilience this winter, including increasing bed capacity by the equivalent of 7,000 general and acute beds.

Children are protected from paediatric intensive care unit admissions via both the flu vaccination programme and other respiratory disease vaccinations, including for measles, pneumococcus and Haemophilus influenzae B. The palivizumab programme protects infants at very highest risk from Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infection, and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is looking at RSV immunisation programmes for the future. Children in clinical risk groups for flu are eligible for vaccination from six months of age. Infants also receive indirect protection from the child and adult influenza vaccination programmes and are protected in the first months of life via the maternal flu vaccination programme.

As with the COVID-19 pandemic, careful surveillance is important in managing the impact on the NHS. The UK Health Security Agency’s disease surveillance and epidemic intelligence helps the NHS optimise clinical management of these diseases, and aids future healthcare delivery and planning.

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