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A&E could do more when treating children

Many hospital accident and emergency departments are not meeting the minimum standards when it comes to treating children, a new report claims.

The study, published in this week's British Medical Journal, found that, out of 139 emergency departments, seeing 18,000 children a year, a quarter did not have separate triage facilities for children. Of those that did, 23 per cent did not have a nurse who had been specifically trained to carry out assessments on arrival on children.

The report is a response to recommendations made five years ago following a comprehensive review of services for children in A&E. The review made 32 essential recommendations to be carried out by the end of this year.

However, the latest study highlights fundamental problems that still exist in A&E departments. Researchers found that 36 per cent of A&E consultants have not received training in the care of children and almost half the nurses (47 per cent) had not been on courses and refresher training in paediatric life support.

The report points out that a quarter of those who arrive at accident and emergency departments are children and calls for all A&E staff to be trained to provide specialist paediatric emergency care while awaiting available beds in children's intensive care units.

"There is considerable room for improvement in the care of children in emergency departments," Ian Maconochie, consultant in paediatric emergency medicine at St Mary's hospital, London, and one of the study’s authors, wrote.

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