The NHS has been facing ever-increasing pressures in recent years, with slashed budgets, staff shortages and lack of resources taking its toll on the quality of care. One of the many ways we commonly see the impact of these pressures is in waiting times for GP appointments; one study found that in 2017, the average wait for a doctor’s appointment was ten days longer than it was in 2015. This difficulty in getting medical attention has seen some people take a ‘wait and see’ approach, in the hope that their ailment will heal itself and make an appointment unnecessary. At this point, more than one million patients are seeking appointments and not getting them
Of course, as a parent, you are determined to get your child the best care, and so while some adults may decide to try self-care or other services while they wait to see a doctor, you will feel a sense of urgency. In many cases, ailments will turn out to be quite benign, but in rare instances, serious conditions can be overlooked if medical attention is not sought, or if symptoms are not correctly diagnosed. Parents should be assertive in chasing medical appointments if their children require them, and symptoms should never be ignored. Here are some of the most serious symptoms that warrant a professional opinion, and what to do if you think your child is being misdiagnosed.
Rashes are among the most common mild ailments for both adults and children, and the majority of them are absolutely harmless and pass within a few days by themselves. However, they can be indicative of much more severe issues, and so if there is no obvious cause of a rash on your child, such as itchy clothing or a nettle sting, seek assistance. Rashes that are purple, painful, pinprick-like in appearance or accompanied by fever or sickness should be immediately brought to the attention of a medical professional. In many instances, a walk-in centre will suffice for the treatment of rashes, eliminating the need to wait for a GP appointment, and the staff who treat your child there will be in a position to refer them to alternative services if they feel the symptoms warrant it.
One of the most common mild ailments, we all experience headaches at some point, and they can be triggered by a surprisingly wide array of factors, from stress and dehydration to poor sight and diet. With children watching more TV and other devices than ever, there are plenty of causes that can give them headaches. The odd headache here and there is probably nothing to worry about, especially if you notice it being brought on by any of the common triggers. However, if it is particularly painful, occurring very frequently or those experienced alongside neck stiffness or sensitivity to light should be checked out. It may be that your child is susceptible to migraines, in which case, diagnosis and familiarity with handling it can relieve a lot of the trouble.
Vomiting and Diarrhoea
Again, these are fairly standard ailments for children and adults alike, and the odd sickness bug that causes vomiting and diarrhoea is quite normal. However, these symptoms can be a signal of something more long-term or serious, so make sure to carefully monitor your child if they are experiencing sickness. Usually, once the virus is out of the system, the sickness will subside, but if it carries on longer than a day or two, or your child cannot even keep liquids down, get them to a GP or nurse, as severe dehydration can occur
Most of the time, a spell of fatigue is absolutely normal, and a good night’s sleep will solve it after a productive day. But if your child seems regularly fatigued, or too tired to take part in normal activities, and the symptoms aren’t relieved by ensuring more sleep and a good diet, then seek a GP’s opinion. There may be underlying factors causing the fatigue that can be managed, such as anaemia, but in the event of it being caused by something more serious, a GP’s diagnosis can help the management of the condition in the future.
Lack of Response
If you are having trouble waking your child up, or they have trouble staying awake, this could be a sign of deeper problems. If they are not responding to sounds, or lights, or cannot visually focus on you, then seek immediate attention. Make sure their airways are open and if it seems their condition has been the result of some accident, try to determine what has happened and call an ambulance.
A bump on the head is another very common ailment for children, especially toddlers who are top-heavy and still finding their balance. However, a seemingly harmless bump to the head can cause more damage than believed, and delayed symptoms can lead people to think they are fine when more serious damage has been sustained under the surface. If your child suffers a head injury that causes laceration, swelling, or seems to make them dizzy, unresponsive or sleepy, get them checked out by a professional as soon as possible.
Medical Opinion and Misdiagnosis
We are fortunate to have one of the world’s best health services in the UK, but in spite of this status, medical misdiagnosis does still happen. Experts estimate that around 24500 patients a year are misdiagnosed by the NHS in the UK, and although most of the time this does not lead to any severe problems, in some instances it can mean that signs of more serious issues are missed and allowed to worsen. If you seek medical help for your child and are not satisfied with the advice or treatment they receive, make sure you push for an alternative, and if you feel that it is necessary, seek a second opinion from a different doctor.
If your child is misdiagnosed by a doctor, and more serious symptoms or illness has resulted from their incorrect diagnosis, make sure you seek the advice of a lawyer as well as adequate medical care. A legal expert can examine your circumstances and the treatment you received from medical professionals, determine where the fault lies in the service they gave you and your child, and advise you on claiming compensation for medical misdiagnosis, if they feel your situation calls for it. If living with long-term consequences of medical misdiagnosis, claiming compensation can help achieve a settlement that guarantees your child high quality of life, with all the treatment and care they need.