Advice for parents / carers

Deciding if children and young people need medical help

This advice was designed by primary and secondary care clinicians at Barts Health ( and East London Health and Care Partnership.

We have not been able to find it except as a JPEG graphic so we have reproduced it here as a web page and will shortly add it as a PDF.

Updated Tuesday, April 7, 2020

When your child is ill or injured, it is very difficult to decide if or when to call your child’s GP, or call NHS 111, or go to Accident and Emergency (A&E).

During the current situation, when the UK and Scottish governments are asking everyone to stay at home, it is even harder.

This guidance will help you assess your child’s condition and choose what to do.

Go to A&E and/or call 999 immediately if ...


• Pale / mottled / ashen / blue colour

• Collapsed / unresponsive / loss of consciousness

• No obvious pulse or heartbeat

• Severe allergic reaction


• Extreme irritability / pain / sleepiness (can be woken but falls asleep immediately)

• Seizure / fit / jerking movements


• Sucking in and out between ribs

• Flaring nostrils

• Extremely fast breathing

• Noisy breathing


• Bleeding from an injury that doesn’t stop after 10 minutes of pressure

Go to A&E if ...


• Dizziness / feeling faint

• Rash that does not fade when you press it


• Constant severe tummy pain


• Burn

• Possible broken bone


• Swallowed foreign objects (especially magnets / batteries)

• Temperature higher than 38 C in a baby younger than three months

• Child has special healthcare needs and you have a plan that tells you to go to A&E

• Feels abnormally cold to touch

• Expressing thoughts of suicide / significant self-harm

Call your GP if ...


• Mild / moderate allergic reaction (definite or suspected)

• New rash that fades when you press on it


• Mild irritability / sleepier than normal

• Severe tummy pain that comes and goes

• Vomiting and diarrhoea

• Not passed urine for more than 12 hours


• Wheezing / fast breathing


• Temperature above 39 C (age 3 months to 12 months)

• Temperature above 38 C for more than 7 days

• Accidental overdose of medication or other substances

• Ear pain for more than 2 days

• Emotional distress and can’t be reassured

Check with NHS 111 or your community pharmacist if ...


• Pink / red eyes


• Ear pain for less than 2 days

• Mild tummy pain that comes and goes


• Cough

• Runny nose


• Temperature over 38 C for less than 7 days