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Anti-covid measures have been essential in repressing the spread of the virus, but they have also had far-reaching, knock-on effects on many other parts of society.

Another of these unintended consequences has come to light, as HSJ has revealed. The chief medical officers of the four UK nations are set to warn about a surge in admissions of severely ill, very young children later this year, due to the resurgence of a respiratory virus which has been suppressed by anti-covid measures.

Public Health England modelling has shown a possible sharp rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can cause bronchiolitis, this autumn and winter; there could be between 20 and 50 per cent more cases needing hospitalisation.

Of course, the NHS dramatically flexed the number of intensive care beds for adults during the three covid peaks, but it is much harder to do this for children needing specialist intensive care and there are concerns this could prove incredibly challenging for the health service, at a time when it traditionally comes under more pressure.

Senior sources have told HSJ that crunch time is expected to come earlier than usual for higher rates of RSV and all eyes are on the southern hemisphere to see how things pan out over their autumn and winter.

Unseen errors

Care failings and mistakes which occur in patients’ homes or the community are much less visible than the ones which hit the headlines – those which happen in hospital.

This week the Care Quality Commission published a report about a community service provider which is claimed to work with every trust in the NHS. The report focuses on a failing that, if it were not for its scale, could go unnoticed.

The provider, Healthcare at Home, was found to have missed tens of thousands of medicine deliveries, and in some instances this resulted in avoidable harm to its patients.

Healthcare at Home is a well-known provider of home care services and medicine supplies. It serves both NHS and privately insured patients.

According to the CQC report, between October and December more than 10,000 patients missed a dose of their medicine due to an IT systems error but before this, between April and October, more than 13,000 incidents had also occurred.

The care regulator did recognise that the provider had made progress since the IT problems but was sufficiently worried to rate the provider inadequate and place it within special measures.