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Can UK emergency departments serve our children better?

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In 1999 a set of standards was published by an intercollegiate working party, under the auspices of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH). Accident and emergency services for children,1 often known as “the red book”, contained recommendations which were practical and feasible, so that the guidance was used widely among emergency physicians, emergency nurses and many inspection bodies, including the Healthcare Commission.


So where are we 8 years on? In May 2007 the Intercollegiate Committee published a second edition, renamed Services for children in emergency departments.2 Much change has occurred in UK emergency departments (EDs) since 1999, so that while the principles of the original document still hold true, much of the operational detail needed to be re-written. The changes of the government 4 h emergency target, Modernising Medical Careers, and the coming of age of Paediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM) as …

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  • Competing interests: None declared.