A report produced by the National Clinical Programme for Paediatrics and Neonatology within the Health Service Executive (HSE), in collaboration with the RCPI’s Faculties of Paediatrics and Public Health Medicine, outlines the adverse effects COVID-19 restrictions have had on the lives of children in Ireland.
The National Clinical Review on the Impact of COVID-19 Restrictions on Children and Guidance on Reopening of Schools and the Normalisation of Paediatric Healthcare Services in Ireland examines the effects of the lockdown on children, explores the possible ways in which the restrictions can be lifted and monitored, and sets out what additional measures and resources need to be put in place in order to make up for the losses and setbacks children have suffered as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
Key recommendations from the report include a commitment to the reopening of schools and a coordinated, national approach to the restoration of children’s health services.
Dr Ellen Crushell, Dean of the Faculty of Paediatrics, and one of the principal authors of the report, says:
“The COVID-19 restrictions have had, and continue to have, significant adverse consequences for children in Ireland, on both their physical and mental health. The single biggest impact on children was the closure of schools. School closures widen the educational gap and disproportionately affect the disadvantaged. Marginalised children such as those in Direct Provision feel most included in society while at school. This report outlines how we, as paediatricians and child healthcare professionals, feel these restrictions and impacts need to be addressed. Within this review we outline why it is vital to begin to take action in areas such as the opening of schools and resumption of full healthcare for all children. Children risk becoming the invisible casualties of the pandemic.”
Dr John Murphy, National Neonatology Clinical Lead and Consultant Neonatologist, and another of the principal authors of the report, says:
“This report outlines some of the key concerns we have in relation to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on children. In the area of healthcare there has been disruption to non-emergency medical services, out patients services have been impacted as have waiting lists, and parents may be reticent to bring children in for things like vaccinations. This document calls for a timely resumption of curtailed services to ensure the future health of children effected by these restrictions.”
Publication of the report was welcomed by Prof Emer Shelley, Dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine:
“As described in this report, deprivation and setbacks in childhood can have lifelong impacts on physical and mental health. Concerted efforts in the education system can compensate to some extent for social and economic disadvantage. Getting children and young people safely back to school is now a national priority. Every effort must also be made to meet the healthcare needs of children in the months ahead.”