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PP20 A national retrospective cohort study of the demographic and conveyance characteristics of paediatric patients presenting to the Scottish Ambulance Service, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic
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  1. Valerie Fairgray1,2,3,
  2. David Fitzpatrick3,4,
  3. Julia Williams2,
  4. Kelly-Ann Bowles1
  1. 1Monash University, Australia
  2. 2College of Paramedics, UK
  3. 3Scottish Ambulance Service, UK
  4. 4University of Stirling, UK

Abstract

Background COVID-19 created unprecedented challenges for emergency care services worldwide. The direct health impact on children was reportedly minimal; however the indirect impact on their prehospital presentations is not yet fully understood. Published studies on national paediatric presentations to ambulance services, before and since the pandemic, are lacking. Therefore, this study aimed to describe the demographic and conveyance characteristics of paediatric patients presenting to the Scottish Ambulance Service, before the first UK lockdown and from 1-year into the pandemic.

Methods A national retrospective cohort study of incidents involving children aged 1-day to 16 years, during two separate 1-year periods: March 2019/20 (before lockdown) and March 2021/22 (after lockdown).

Results Overall, 5.7% (n=69,327) of calls were for patients <16 years (before lockdown n=34,022; after lockdown n=35,305). Median age of patients decreased from 3 years (IQR 1-10) to 2 years (IQR 1-7). Most presentations during both periods were for children <5 years, with an associated increase in calls recorded for the period after lockdown (59%, n=20,018 vs 66%, n= 23,285). The converse was demonstrated for children ≥5 years, with fewer presentations recorded after lockdown (41%, n=14,004 vs 34%, n=12,020). Conveyance rates remained high, both before and after lockdown (79%, n=26,737 vs 75%, n=26,602). In addition, over half of conveyed patients had no clinical interventions or emergency driving recorded (58%, n=15,470 vs 62%, n=16,528).

Conclusion This study demonstrates that the majority of paediatric patients presenting to the service were <5 years, conveyed to hospital and required no intervention during transfer. The demographic and conveyance data provide a benchmark on which to measure future changes and highlight key areas that would benefit from further investigation. Future research is needed to understand why incidents involving children <5 years increased after lockdown and reasons for conveyance in those patients who receive no prehospital clinical intervention.

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