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NHS child health app

Research shows that parents often lack confidence to deal with common childhood illnesses – but the NHS Child Health app lends a helping hand – as well as reducing the pressure on services.

With more and more families living away from their support networks, parents often seek medical help for minor illnesses rather than asking grandparents for advice as people did in the past.

Children account for a high proportion of A&E attendances in the North East, but around 60% under-fives are discharged with no treatment.

Our research explored the key target groups, testing out their needs at a series of focus groups for parents and carers of under-fives. These groups – including families on low incomes, with young children and limited family support networks – were identified as key to embracing and spreading messages around self-care and appropriate use of services.

The app – and a printed booklet version – were rigorously tested and reviewed by both clinicians and parents, before being launched via the app store and google play. The app helps parents recognise whether their child needs treatment – and geo-targets NHS services so that the user can find the right service when they are needed.

Strong demand in recent months has seen over 19,000 downloads to date, with the app being shortlisted for several national awards.

We’re starting to see a reduction in Type 3 attendances at A&Es, with the maximum attendances in any one month reducing from 1,261 to 956. This could indicate the start of behavioural change and will monitored closely over the next few months.

The next step for the app is to link it with the Directory of Services, so that it can auto-update with any changes to services – while a recent rollout in North Cumbria has already seen over 500 new downloads.

For further information, contact helen.fox6@nhs.net.