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Back to school this September would have presented more challenges than usual for many families – and it appears the pressure has also been on the NHS 111 / 999 pathways.

According to new data published by NHS Digital today, from 31 August to 9 September the rolling seven-day total of potential covid-19 symptoms via NHS Pathways in the 0-18 years age group has more than tripled, with an increase of 343 per cent.

In the 19-69 years group it was shown to have increased by 63 per cent, while among over-70s it has fallen by 2 per cent.

In terms of online triaging of potential covid cases there was also a rise during the same time period; it shows a 530 per cent increase among 0-18 year-olds, a 117 per cent increase among 19-69 year olds, and a 79 per cent increase among 70-and-overs.

There are of course provisos in interpreting this data, as more people may use the services if they are more concerned and it is likely for children once back at school to pick up covid-like symptoms without being covid.

President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, Katherine Henderson, responded to the data and said: “It is very clear that more resourcing will be required to ensure 111 can continue to handle increased call volumes throughout winter.”

Is the uptick in triaged covid calls and online cases down to more coughs, colds and late-summer sniffles? Perhaps, but the NHS Pathways system must ensure it is robust enough to cope with potentially even higher demand over the winter months.