Should Children attend Nursery with Conjunctivitis?

smiling_eyesIt was reported over the weekend in the Sunday Times (Sunday 13 November) that the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has written to Ofsted to “press for change” as regards nurseries and schools excluding children with conjunctivitis.

Their concerns are that nurseries requiring parents to seek medical information before a child can attend nursery with conjunctivitis is causing GPs unreasonable levels of appointments.

In July the British Journal of General Practice published a report stating that 87% of nurseries excluded children with conjunctivitis and this encouraged GPs to prescribe antibiotics. Chair of the RCGP said “we’re sure that nurseries mean well by sending children home…but they need to be aware of the huge impact this is having on GP workload. Infective conjunctivitis is an unpleasant condition but antibiotics are not the answer in most cases.”

Bristol Childcare has already updated its Illness and Medication Policy to reflect this discussion. Managing Director Saffia Bullock says. “When the report came out in July, we listened to parents’ feedback and discussed this as a management team and have updated our policy so that we follow the Public Health England Guidance for conjunctivitis, along with other illnesses. This Guidance states that children do not have to be kept away from school or nursery with conjunctivitis.

Our overriding principle in our Illness and Medication Policy is to consider the individual child in each circumstance. If the child is clearly unwell and distressed, we do not think it appropriate that they attend nursery and would discuss this with parents.

We also have to consider other children in the nursery so would take care to avoid cross contamination. We already have high standards of hygiene in our nurseries to ensure that staff and children can stay as healthy as possible.”