A&E are “overwhelmed” with parents rushing their children to hospital with mild illnesses, doctors warned.
Some doctors are describing the strain on their hospitals as being like “winter in June” as concerned parents are circumventing GPs when their children get ill.
Problems are arising as many non-Covid viruses which were suppressed throughout lockdown, are spreading more rapidly with schools open again.
Another potential issue is new parents, whose children were born during the pandemic, not knowing what to do when they develop a fever.
Dr Camilla Kingdon, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), told the Metro: “Many emergency departments are currently overwhelmed and there has been a particularly steep rise in the number of young children presenting.
“Some have seen the highest ever numbers of children in their department and waiting times can be huge. The biggest increase we’re seeing is in children with mild fever. Fevers are very common in young children and usually aren’t serious.
“But many parents haven’t seen fever in their child before and are worried, particularly if they don’t have their usual sources of support to turn to, such as parent groups.”
Other conditions being seen include respiratory infections, bronchiolitis, paraflu and rhinovirus, which produce symptoms of cough, runny nose and fever but don’t often require A&E treatment.
The RCPCH urged parents to seek help from their GP, NHS 11 or online before resorting to A&E.
One emergency paediatrician said the situation is like “winter in June”, with data from four hospitals showing May attendances for those aged 15 and under rose from 15,954 in 2018 to 23,661 this year.
Dr Dan Magnus, consultant in paediatric emergency medicine at the Bristol Royal Hospital, said: “We had an incredibly busy week last week – in fact on Monday we set a new record for the number of children seen in 24hrs in our department ever, and that’s in the middle of summer.
“We are effectively running a winter-level ED (emergency department) response in the summertime.”