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Call to Action – Health impact on children of pandemic response

Please take part in this ‘Call to Action’ by copying and pasting the text below and submitting on the DHSC website.

https://contactus.dhsc.gov.uk/

Select: Question/ Something else.

Copy and paste the following into the form:

For the attention of:

Chris Whitty

Matt Hancock

Jenny Harries

Jonathan Van Tam

Dear All

I understand your roles encompass responsibility for the health of the nation as a whole, not only the direct health and mortality implications of COVID-19. While understanding that COVID-19 is a severe crisis, particularly for the vulnerable elderly, I am very concerned about the short, medium and long term health impact on children of the pandemic response.

Children are also vulnerable members of society, and the effects on them of school closures include:

  • Substantial increase in anxiety and depression
  • Increase in domestic violence, child abuse and child poverty
  • Impact on educational attainment that impacts future life chances and health outcomes
  • Deterioration in general physical health with the loss of school and grassroots sport

I’m sure you agree that public health should consider all demographics and weigh up harms and benefits of invasive interventions. I’m keen to understand your response to several questions:

  • Do you have concerns about the damage that is being wrought on children’s short and long term physical and mental health due to these measures- in particular school closures?
  • Assuming that a full cost/benefit analysis of school closures has been conducted, at what point would you decide that the risk to the short and long term health of 10 million children is no longer justifiable?
  • Suppose the vaccine doesn’t prove to be a magic bullet as an exit strategy. How much longer do you believe that children can suffer these non-pharmaceutical interventions without irreversible and grave long term harm to their development?
  • What risk assessments have you conducted about the impact of your interventions on children’s health?
  • What plans do you have to help the nation’s children recover their health and wellbeing?

I refer you to a recent article in the Telegraph that illustrates psychiatrists’ severe concerns regarding the public health crisis we are shoring up for the future.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/08/childrens-mental-health-referrals-hit-record-high-lockdowns/?fbclid=IwAR1YzfhHTY2F34-PF9zX2ft6WaSrWVtU6FN8bwXJtmXgJasEL8ZwVD9V2us

Dr Bernadka Dubicka, the Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Child and Adolescent Faculty said, “ The effect of school closures, cancelled exams and empty lecture halls will reverberate through our families and communities long after Covid-19 is consigned to the history books,”

I look forward to your comments, responses to my questions above and your confirmation that you are conducting ongoing risk-benefit analyses about the effect on children’s health of school closures and other NPIs.