The number of children being treated by A&E departments for minor problems such as coughs and colds has risen by 42% in the last decade.
Confusion over access to out-of-hours care and changes to GPs’ obligations have been blamed for many parents seeing hospital as a “default option” for any of their children’s health worries.
“Parents have found in the last few years that accessing primary care is more difficult than previously,” explained John Heyworth, President of the College of Emergency Medicine.
The report added that the increase may also be related parents’ increased awareness of potentially dangerous illnesses, such as meningitis.
The Government is currently working on a reorganisation of the NHS in terms of primary care. A spokesperson for the Department of Health explained, “Our vision is to replace the ad-hoc, uncoordinated system that has developed over more than a decade, and has been characterised by poor quality and too much variation.”
But for the time being, parents may have to resort to A&E when primary care is unavailable.