NHS England has told GPs they should ‘consider’ seeing all children under five with ‘respiratory symptoms’ face-to-face and referring them to secondary care.
Children with respiratory symptoms ‘should follow Government guidance’ but this ‘should not take precedence over clinical assessment’, it added in its latest GP bulletin.
The NHS England bulletin, sent to practices today, said this comes amid a ‘remarkable reduction’ in viral respiratory infections other than Covid over the last year.
This means an ‘increasing number’ of young children have ‘never been exposed’ to common viruses, which are having ‘unseasonable outbreaks’ as social distancing measures are relaxed, it added.
NHS England reiterated that Covid ‘tends to be a mild, self-limiting illness in children’ and said that ‘prolonged illness and/or severe symptoms should not be attributed to Covid-19 and should be evaluated as usual’.
However, it added: ‘We are asking that all children under five with respiratory symptoms are considered for face-to-face consultations and referred to secondary care as appropriate.
‘Whilst children with respiratory symptoms should follow government guidance, including on Covid-19 testing, this should not take precedence over clinical assessment.’
New NHS England guidance last month said GP patients must now be offered face-to-face appointments if that is their preference and receptions must be open for walk-ins.