Parents’ thumbs up for free health app

CATCH app (1)Parents of children aged 0 – 4 have praised a free health app that gives advice on treating common ailments and keeping their little ones well.

Since its launch early last year, the CATCH app has been downloaded 1,662 times. And of the 284 users who had completed the app’s satisfaction survey as at 3 March, 91 per cent said they would recommend CATCH to a relative or friend.

The app was developed by NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group with NHS South Cheshire CCG and Cheshire East Council to give parents and carers the confidence to treat their children for a wide range of minor conditions like coughs, colds and sore throats instead of seeing a GP or visiting hospital.

Figures from the survey suggest that CATCH is working as 47 per cent of those completing the questionnaire said they had chosen self-care rather than attending A&E with their child since downloading the app.

The findings are in line with statistics for the four months to 31 January which show that the number of 0 to 5 year olds discharged from A&E with nothing but basic information and advice was 538 or 155 fewer than for the same four months in 2015/16 – before the app was launched.
The figures cover all A&E departments in which Eastern Cheshire children were seen, not just Macclesfield District General Hospital.

The CATCH app (which stands for Common Approach to Children’s Health) is available for free on the App Store for iPhones and iPads, and on the Google Play Store for Androids and tablets.

CATCH provides:
• NHS-approved health advice
• highly localised information about healthcare services and support groups in Cheshire East
• timely notifications about key health dates such as childhood immunisations
• an interactive map of Cheshire East healthcare services such as GP surgeries, dentists and pharmacies.

The app is also highly personalised as parents can input their child’s date of birth and it will only present health information and reminders that are relevant to their child’s age.

CATCH came about as a result of a study undertaken by the council’s public health department, which found that A&E attendance among 0-4 year olds in Cheshire East was much higher than the national average.

And while taking children to A&E is the right thing to do in some circumstances, the research showed that a large number of Cheshire East parents who attended A&E were being given advice and a leaflet because hospital treatment was not appropriate. This suggests that self-care would have been a better option for many of the children.

Dr Lesley Bayliss, the CCG’s clinical champion for children, said: “This pattern of use suggested that some parents lacked the confidence and knowledge to know when their child needed medical treatment and when self-care was more appropriate.

“A lot of work has gone into the CATCH app and we believe it will act as a highly useful tool for those who care for young children in Cheshire East.
“I really hope that people embrace the app and generally adopt the self-care approach where appropriate, which is not only beneficial to the patient but also eases pressure on the NHS. We want Cheshire East to be the best place in the country for children to grow up in, and this app is a great step towards achieving that goal.”

From the 1,662 downloads in the last 12 months, 8,077 articles have been read.

The five most popular articles on the app were:
• Coping with stress after having a baby
• Fever in children
• The NHS vaccination schedule
• Deciding on childcare
• What to do if your child has an accident.
The five most popular searches of emergency content were:
• Does your child have a serious illness?
• How to help a choking child
• If a child has swallowed a button battery
• How to resuscitate a child
• Allergic reactions.
CATCH was used 48 times to call NHS 111 and 22 times to call 999.

For more information on CATCH or to download it, visit