Children, acceptable health risks and COVID-19: Ethical guidance for a fair policy response

About the project

This project explored how the health systems response to the COVID-19 pandemic affected children and young people with long-term health conditions in the UK. It analysed the impact of the pandemic on healthcare delivery and access, the potential of innovative practices developed in response to the pandemic, and how service restrictions have affected children’s health when they are suffering from a range of long term or chronic conditions. In investigating these impacts, the project addressed and identified longer term structural issues of health justice affected children and young people. It aimed to provide accessible ethical guidance to medical authorities and government departments on how the needs of children should feature in the prioritisation process during a public health emergency.

The research included a scoping review of studies into child healthcare in the pandemic, and focus group interview research with patients and healthcare professionals. The project team assessed guidance in context and in conjunction with a range of decision makers responsible for the allocation of resources. It worked closely with Children and Young People’s Health Partnership (CYPHP) in South East London.

Findings include:

  • Longer term and systemic issues have resulted in the underfunding of research, have obscured our understanding of children’s health in the pandemic.
  • Changes and disruption to healthcare delivery in the pandemic put many children and young people with long term or chronic conditions at greater risk.
  • Many children and young people with long term and chronic conditions were not adequately supported, resourced, or prioritised in key areas of healthcare in the pandemic.