Father and GP campaigns for nursery to relax its rules on conjunctivitis
A GP and father of twins has recently campaigned for a nursery to change their sickness policy with regards to conjunctivitis. Dr Finnikin pushed for the change in policy after his own toddler was sent home with the infection by the University of Birmingham’s nursery. The doctor is also a researcher for the university and set about gathering research on the matter. Dr Finnikin found that 87% of the 164 nurseries he asked, would exclude children with conjunctivitis according to their policies.
Dr Finnikin said the setting also required his daughter to be treated with antibiotics before she was allowed to return. His research was in agreement with almost half of the 164 settings requiring the infected child to have received antibiotic treatment before being allowed to return to the nursery. This contradicts the Public Health England guidance that settings follow with regards to infection control. The guidance from PHE states that for children with conjunctivitis, being sent home is not necessary and recommends antibiotics only in severe cases.
Dr Finnikin did say he could understand the policy is used to restrict an outbreak and control infection; however the possible risks do not outweigh the harms and costs of the policies. It can be considered unreasonable to expect a parent to miss wages from working to keep a child off nursery that is not unwell. Also the Doctor did suggest that giving children antibiotics unnecessarily can cause them to gain a resistance to the medicine and can put children in more pain or harm than conjunctivitis alone due to the side effects of some prescribed drugs.