1 Communicating with patients and minimising risk

1 Communicating with patients and minimising risk

1.1 Communicate with patients and their parents or carers, and support their mental wellbeing to help alleviate any anxiety and fear they may have about COVID‑19. Signpost to charities, support groups (including NHS Volunteer Responders), UK government guidance on supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health resources for parents and carers.

1.2 Reassure patients and their parents or carers that COVID‑19 usually causes a mild, self-limiting illness in children and young people, even in those who are immunocompromised.

1.3 Advise patients and their parents or carers not to avoid their usual appointments unless told to, because it could cause harm to the patient. Tell them about alternative approaches that can be taken to minimise risk.

1.4 Tell patients and their parents or carers to contact their specialist team straight away if they think that the patient may have COVID‑19 or if they have other medical concerns, to ensure any symptoms, underlying conditions and immunosuppressant medicines are appropriately assessed. If they are unable to contact the team they should contact the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111 and advise about their long-term condition. In an emergency they should first call 999 if the patient is seriously ill. [amended 21 May 2020]

1.5 Safely reduce usual face-to-face contact with alternative approaches, including:

  • using telephone, video or email consultations whenever possible

  • contacting people via text message, telephone or email

  • using electronic prescriptions rather than paper

  • using different methods to deliver prescriptions and medicines, for example, pharmacy deliveries, postal services, NHS Volunteer Responders or introducing drive-through pick-up points for medicines.

1.6 Advise patients and their parents or carers to keep a list of the medicines they take and the conditions they have, as well as a copy of a recent clinic letter, to give to healthcare staff if they need treatment for COVID‑19.

Shielding

1.8 Be aware that babies and children cannot always be shielded in the same way as adults. Discuss this with patients (if appropriate), their parents or carers and specialist teams.

Safeguarding

1.9 Be aware of any safeguarding concerns for individual patients, particularly if they are a vulnerable person. Use clinical discretion when advising on shielding and school attendance. Follow UK government guidance on supporting vulnerable children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Planning if parents or carers have COVID-19

1.10 For patients with complex care needs, ask parents or carers to plan for what should happen if they themselves become ill. This should cover who will provide care and give any treatments (including if the parents do not live together), and what training and support they may need. Advise parents or carers to liaise with the patient's specialist teams (and social worker if applicable) about the patient's care.