New research highlights impact of children’s illnesses on parents
New research conducted by Evergreen Life paints a clear picture of the impact of children’s illnesses and injuries on parents – over £1.3billion annually for the care of children up to 12 years old. The research, involving 1000 parents from across the UK with children under the age of 12 years, revealed that parents estimate it costs them on average £231 a year to look after a child, with 1 in 7 parents saying it costs them over £500 a year
London was the region hardest hit, with 21.3% of respondents replying that they took 11+ days off work a year, reflecting that some areas require improved access to health and better support networks for parents. The region with the least number of days off was Northern Ireland, with only 7.7% taking 11+ days.
The consequences of the survey are "two-fold"
Stephen Critchlow, CEO of Evergreen Life, explained: “With this survey, we wanted to see to what extent looking after a sick child impacted the life of a parent. The consequences are two-fold: firstly, parents lose valuable working hours, which may then have to be made up elsewhere, or by using up holiday; and secondly, parents may miss out on an income as a result.”
Parents with children with a long-term health condition, such as asthma, allergies and diabetes, were over five times more likely to take this time off work than others (39.8% and 6.91% respectively), and to pay more than a third more towards medical care - £327 compared to £192. Greater efficiency of health, such as ownership over health records whilst visiting medical professionals, could significantly lessen the burden for parents and health services alike.
UK parents aged 25-34 were almost twice as likely to take 11+ days off work (14.4%), compared to those aged 35-44 (7.9%), demonstrating a greater burden on this age cohort as well.
The survey additionally revealed that 57% of respondents feel they wait too long to get an appointment with a GP or medical professional, with an equal 57% of UK parents spending up to 15 hours a month simply arranging and attending their children’s medical appointments.
Alleviating the pressure
With the UK digital health market expected to be worth almost £3bn in 2018, the potential to take preventative measures through the digital management of personal health has never been greater.
In April 2017, the NHS launched its Digital Apps Library, in part to alleviate the pressure on the health service by offering a selection of apps designed to facilitate booking GP appointments and manage fitness, allergies, mental health etc.
In discussing Evergreen’s NHS accredited app, Mr. Critchlow commented:
“The app also grants patients control over their health records so that they can update them when necessary. For parents with children with chronic health conditions, especially, this can be an essential tool for tracking and maintaining a correct record of their child’s health, to be shared with medical professionals.
“If a parent monitors their child’s health in advance or books appointments using an app, they’re saving valuable time and money.
“Using digital health services can also be beneficial on a macro level. People taking time out of work to care for their children means a less efficient labour force. Meanwhile, visits to the GP surgery or hospital are costly for the NHS. An increased uptake in the number of people using digital health services would help to alleviate the pressures of these issues”, Mr. Critchlow concluded.
 The Office of National Statistics estimates that there are 5,462,776 parents in the UK with children under the age of 12