Calderdale children's doctor warns of surge in eating disorders and demand for urgent care since pandemic started

A top Calderdale children's doctor says more young people are coming into West Yorkshire's hospitals with mental health issues - including eating disorders - since the start of the pandemic.

Thursday, 2nd September 2021, 3:32 pm
Dr Sal Uka, Consultant Paediatrician at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust and Medical Lead for WYAAT.

Dr Sal Uka, Consultant Paediatrician at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, says he has never seen such a surge in eating disorders as has happened since Covid-19 hit.

He warned that the consequences of the pandemic and lockdowns have had a real impact on children's lives, and more young people are presenting with mental health problems.

"At this moment in time, each children's ward across West Yorkshire and Harrogate will have a number of children and young people on there with a mental health problem, such as an eating disorder like anorexia, who simply are waiting for their next bed to be available to help treat them for this," said Dr Uka, who is also Medical Lead for West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYAAT).

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"I've never seen such a surge in eating disorders as we are at the moment."

In a video posted on social media by WYAAT, Dr Uka said doctors across West Yorkshire and Harrogate are seeing more young people coming to hospital with Covid-19, including some showing typical complications of the virus.

He also said the last few weeks has seen an increasing need for urgent and emergency care, and that has included for children.

He said some of that has come from parents wanting reassurance by seeing a health professional in person.

"I think it's immeasurable having that assurance for parents knowing that someone has seen their child, has checked them over and actually will give them the advice that they're looking for rather than perhaps doing something more virtual," he said.

"In addition to that, since lockdown restrictions have eased, we're seeing an increase in respiratory viruses and in particular a notable virus called RSV."

"RSV causes bronchiolitis, which is a chest infection, predominantly in babies and infants aged under two.

"For most, this is a fairly simple illness that will cause some difficulties in breathing, perhaps even cough and sometimes fever.

"But for a few it will mean they need to go into hospital, either for support for their breathing or for support with their feeding.

"We're about to enter a surge of RSV and I would say my colleagues working across West Yorkshire and Harrogate are well aware of this and the potential impact that this might have on our hospitals.

"This is something that I know colleagues across the partnership are working towards and will simply have to cope with over the next few weeks."

He added that innovative work is underway to help tackle these issues, including looking to see if children can be assessed in their homes using digital technologies and a pilot promoting early discharge where babies and children can recover at home.