Winter back to school advice – prevent illnesses and know where to get treatment

03 January 2019

Going back to school or nursery after the Christmas break should be an exciting time, but a new term can also mean back-to-school sniffles and other health issues, particularly in the colder months, that mean parents need help and advice from the NHS. 

Parents and carers of young children in Barking and Dagenham, Havering, and Redbridge are being reminded that many common childhood illnesses can be managed easily at home with over the counter medication and rest, or by using prescribed medication correctly. 

Winter is the busiest time for the NHS and our local hospitals and GP practices are very busy. Beginning of term is also a peak time for children being admitted to hospital for asthma, something that with the right plan and inhalers in place can easily be avoided. 

Dr Jagan John, clinical lead for urgent care across Barking and Dagenham, Havering, and Redbridge and also chair of Barking and Dagenham CCG, said: “Going back to school or nursery can mean viruses, coughs and colds are spread amongst children. All parents worry about the best way to care for their child when they become ill. 

“Our local NHS is very busy, and it’s important we all take action to stay well, so A&E is used for life-threatening accidents and emergencies only. 

“To help parents of young children know what to do when their child is unwell, there is quick and easy information available at your fingertips. Use your phone to see this information online on our website and get advice on what to do if your child has a fever, cough and cold or experiencing an upset tummy.” 

A leaflet, put together by local healthcare professionals, explains common illnesses and injuries children and babies experience – everything from bumps and bruises to tonsillitis and breathing difficulties. It tells you how to care for and treat these illnesses, and what NHS service is most appropriate if medical advice is needed. You can find the leaflet and information on your local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group website. 

If your GP practice is closed and your child needs to be seen urgently, call the NHS 111 Clinical Assessment Service. The service has GPs, nurses, paramedics, and pharmacists giving urgent advice over the phone through the free NHS 111 helpline, which is available 24 hours a day. As it is joined up with other local health and care services, it is quick and easy to book a face to face appointment or get a prescription if needed, or put you through to speak to experts.  

Parents are encouraged to plan ahead and ensure there is a first aid kit at home with essentials, such as liquid paracetamol or ibuprofen, a thermometer, and oral rehydration solution suitable for your child’s age. Remember your local pharmacist can help with all of these, and provide expert advice on the best cause of treatment for many illnesses and injuries. 

Another easy way to avoid the spread of illnesses such as norovirus is through good hand hygiene. Washing your and your child's hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water is by far the most effective method as alcohol gels do not kill the virus.