Hospital's children’s service dealing with long Covid to monitor Omicron impact

Dr Kate Armon, a paediatric rheumatologist at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Kate Armon is a paediatric rheumatologist at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - Credit: Cambridge University Hospitals

The impact of the coronavirus variant Omicron is being monitored by a new service at Addenbrooke’s Hospital helping with the treatment of children in the region with long Covid. 

The service, at the hospital’s specialist child development centre, opened this month following a Government announcement in June that £100m would be provided for 15 new hubs across the country.

GPs, community nurses, and local paediatricians will be able to access new online resources outlining the investigations needed to make a definitive long Covid diagnosis.

They will also be able to find the regional and hospital resources that are in place to help young people and their families.

They will be able to refer the most acute cases to Addenbrooke’s where they will be seen by a multidisciplinary team experienced in the care of patients with very prolonged or severe effects following Covid infection.

The service will also be watching to see if any new Covid-19 variants affect the younger generation and what additional support may be needed.

Dr Kate Armon, CUH paediatric rheumatologist, said: “I think it is still too early to know the effect of omicron.

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"Treating children and young people with long Covid is a new and emerging speciality and we are constantly learning more.

“Our team is linking with the other new hubs around the country to share experiences and learning, so we can provide the best care and advice based on current knowledge and guidelines.”

The new service aims to treat “the whole child” - the medical, mental, and social impact of long Covid on their lives.

Team members include occupational therapists, physical therapists and psychologists, who rub shoulders with many other paediatricians and experts in child care.

They will focus on pain, chronic fatigue, mood, anxiety, motivation, and ways to re-access education and social groups.

As yet it is unknown how many children and young people the service is likely to help a year, or the impact of new variants.

While the majority of children and young people are not severely affected by Covid, 7.4 per cent aged two-11, and 8.2 per cent of those aged 12-16, report continued symptoms. .

Dr Armon added: “Sadly, long Covid can have a profound impact on young patients, their ability to function, access education and social contact, as well as on their wider family and friends - and we are here to help.”