The UK has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Western Europe, ranking 15th highest out of 19 countries.
This alarming statistic shows the importance of improving healthcare for children in the UK. Paediatric healthcare requires a collaborative approach from clinicians, paediatricians, and investors in order to combat the escalating problems highlighted within the paediatric care system. It is important that paediatric healthcare is also a focus on the Governments agenda. Prof Russell Viner, RCPCH officer for health promotion commented, “Child health isn’t being given the political attention it deserves in Westminster, which is disappointing given the real commitments from Scottish and Welsh governments”. (BBC News, 2018).
More investment and innovation is needed in order to support children in preventative treatments and aftercare. It is also important that clinicians have appropriate devices available in order to apply bespoke methods of caring for young children – one example of this is the extraction of blood from a child, which can be a traumatic experience for them, as well as the parent and healthcare practitioner.
The UK government have focused their attention on the impact of an ageing population, those aged 55 +. This consideration is important to our growing population however there is a clear need for the UK Government to turn their attention to paediatric healthcare. The majority of methods, techniques, and instruments used to treat adults are also used on children without the consideration of the different requirements and needs for each patient group. Smaller sizes of tools and equipment are vital in making procedures safer and more comfortable for the child. Young children have a much lower pain threshold than that of an adult and where possible; it is paramount that we accommodate size ranges in order to make a difference when giving care to infants and young people.
There is evidence to suggest that the level of care delivered to young children differs quite considerably from that of an adult, considering four key factors. “Children differ from adults in at least four important ways: 1) developmental change; 2) dependency on parents and other carers; 3) differential epidemiology (e.g. different health, illness and disabilities); and 4) demographic patterns (e.g. socio-economic determinants) (Forrest and others, 1997)”. (Kossarova, Devakumar and Edwards, 2018)
Although, there is currently a small range of devices specifically designed to be used in paediatric care, such as catheters, which are smaller in size. There are still many devices simply borrowed from adult applications or produced for more general use, being used on children.
Designing paediatric medical devices present some tough challenges, taking into consideration vast size differences, body structures (particularly in underdeveloped neonates) and much lower pain thresholds. These challenges however, bring a wide range of opportunities for many different stakeholders.
To sufficiently care for young children, it is imperative that we actively encourage more investment and innovation into designing relevant technological solutions that are suitable for treating children. In order for this to be a success, there needs to be collaboration between key stakeholders including: innovators, clinicians, paediatricians, investors, parents, and consultants.
With that in mind; Triteq, Innovation Forum Oxford and Thinking of Oscar are running a series of workshops in April and May in order to bring people together, who are as passionate about progression in delivering quality paediatric care as we are.
We are keen to develop innovative ideas that will empower clinicians and give them a higher level of confidence when using equipment tailored specifically for the children that they treat on a day to day basis.
BBC News. (2018). Children ‘deserve better’ healthcare.
Kossarova, L., Devakumar, D. and Edwards, N. (2018). The future of child health services: new models of care. 1st ed. [ebook] Published by the Nuffield Trust., pp.7-41. Available at: https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/files/2017-01/future-of-child-health-services-web-final.pdf