NHS Oldham is promoting a campaign to help families quickly and effectively choose the best pathway to care for children aged under five.

NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has commissioned the campaign, with local doctors, nurses and staff from Oldham’s Community Children’s Nursing Team playing a role in the publicity.

The campaign is called ‘Choose The Right Care Pathway’.

The publicity material includes website information, a phone app, video interviews, social media via. Dedicated Facebook and Twitter feeds, radio adverts, leaflets, cards and posters. The purpose is to help parent and carers find the right source of advice and care for children, and to change perceptions of when to visit hospitals and A&E departments.

Increasing numbers of children are visiting A&E departments when they do not need to. Parents today appear to be more worried about common ailments and injuries than in the past, and less confident in their own judgements and helping children to recover.

Raising awareness of other sources of advice and care will save time for everyone and leave hospitals free for life-threatening emergencies.

The five different routes or ‘pathways’ to advice and care for under-fives are:

• Caring for a child at home using handy NHS information.

• Visiting a local pharmacy for quick, professional advice and medicine.

• Contacting a doctors’ surgery – under-fives are given same-day appointments

• Getting a referral from a GP or nurse practitioner into the Children’s Community Nursing Team for long term conditions such as eczema.

• Only visiting a hospital in a real emergency

Clear advice and contact information for each pathway is provided in the publicity material, which has been created by Oldham agency Cornerstone Design & Marketing.

In the video interviews, medics explain the services they provide for young children and emphasise that professional advice and care is available in many ways across the borough. These include town centre clinics, local surgeries and visits to children at home.

The leaflets and videos feature fun illustrations and cartoon characters based on individual medical staff in the Children’s Community Nursing Team. The visual style is designed to clearly illustrate the different care ‘pathways’, and appeal to children and parents.

Publicity material also includes clear advice on how to deal with different symptoms or needs. These range from common colds, cuts and bruises to long-term conditions like asthma, or responding to life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness.

Digital information includes the ‘Oldham Child Health App’ which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google. Families can also visit the CCG’s website at:care.oldhamccg.nhs.uk, which also signposts parents and carers to the support services provided for under-fives by Oldham Council.

NHS Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group held an event at Oldham Library with parents and children to promote the campaign. The website, app, videos, leaflets and posters were shown, and there was face-painting and toys for youngsters.

Dr John Patterson, chief medical officer for the CCG, said: “We are telling parents, grandparents, families and carers how many different ways there are to care for young children when they are unwell.

“It can be scary when young children are unwell, and as a dad myself, I understand that worry. But we are really well-equipped to help families look after children usually without going to hospital.

“We have a fantastic website, phone app, leaflets, cards and posters to help people understand if their child’s symptoms can be treated at home or if they should get treatment by another of our care pathways.

“Children can often be cared for at home if they have common injuries or symptoms such as a cut, graze, bruises or a runny nose.

“Local pharmacies can provide quick, accurate and reliable advice for coughs, colds, hay fever and allergies. And every local GP surgery across Oldham offers a same-day, priority appointment for any child aged under five. They can treat common symptoms in children such as diarrhoea, vomiting and rashes.

“Our fantastic Children’s Community Nursing Team treats youngsters both at home or in their regular specialist clinics. They treat symptoms such as asthma, bronchiolitis and wheeziness, and help children manage their conditions in the long term.

“For serious emergences and life-threatening symptoms such as loss of consciousness or breathing difficulties, then hospital A&E departments should be used.”