The WPSU was set up in 1994 as a joint venture between the University of Wales Departments of Child health (Professor J Sibert) and Public Health Medicine (Professor S Palmer). The management of the system was reorganised in 1996 in conjunction with the Welsh Paediatric Society (Dr J Morgan, co-ordinator), which supports the system. Funding has also been obtained from the Welsh Office for Research and Development and latterly Public Health Wales, within the National Assembly for Wales.
The Welsh system looks at conditions in children in Wales, which are considered too common for a UK study or too uncommon for a local hospital to perform. The WPSU uses similar methodology to the orange card system of the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU) with whom we have a close relationship. We endeavour to discuss all our new projects with the BPSU to ensure that there is no overlap: a number of proposals have either been paused or suspended whilst the BPSU studies were conducted.
Monthly (green) cards listing the conditions currently being studied are distributed mostly by email to consultant and community paediatricians and senior doctors working in Wales (and some border hospitals), covering a childhood (0-15 years) population of around 560,000. A small box is ticked if one of the conditions has been encountered in the preceding month. Where a reporting doctor has encountered one or more of our study conditions the number of patients is entered into the appropriate box, and the patients’ details are recorded separately as a reminder for the doctor. If no cases are encountered a simple confirmation that no cases have been seen in the preceding month is all that is required. The email (or green) card is then returned to the Surveillance Office within the Department of Child Health, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board at the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales in Cardiff.
Mailings can be extended to include other consultants in Wales, particularly if older children may be affected. This has been very successful in studies involving Acute and Chronic Renal failure and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Paediatricians along the border of England have also been very helpful where some Welsh children have been treated outside Wales. Latterly general surgeons and neurologists throughout Wales have also been very helpful with the studies on gall stones in children and juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.
It is important that the system encourages and supports all doctors involved in the projects, feeding back as much information to individual doctors as possible and thereby increasing the awareness of the studies. The system is there for everyone to use and we hope that paediatricians in training will also see this system as an opportunity to help with research and audit projects. They may initiate studies under supervision.
The unit looks to provide the Welsh National Assembly with data that can assist in the planning of Health Care for Children in Wales, to act as a resource for the determination of the epidemiology of diseases in childhood and to assist audit and research.
Heather O'Connell - Administrator WPSU
Dr Johann te Water Naudé - Director
Department of Child Health,
University Hospital of Wales
Cardiff, United Kingdom
Tel: 029 2074 3946