May 31, 2022
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a significant burden on the healthcare system and on children and their parents and caregivers. We estimate RSV in children under 5 in the UK costs £80 million each year: £14 million of productivity losses, £1.5 million of out-of-pocket expenses for parents/carers, and £65 million of healthcare costs.
Understanding impacts on the NHS, society and economy
Published May 31, 2022
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a common respiratory virus that affects large numbers, mainly of children younger than five. The burden of RSV includes not only ill health for the children with the virus, which in severe cases results in hospitalisation, intensive care and even death; but also the emotional and practical burden on the affected families and carers; and the impact that has on productivity in the economy; alongside the costs of providing healthcare.
We reviewed recent literature and published data relevant to the UK and used this information to model the costs to the healthcare system and to the wider UK economy in terms of productivity losses of parents/carers. We found healthcare costs and productivity losses in the UK resulting from RSV in children younger than five total approximately £80 million annually. These costs are the consequence, in part, of an estimated 467,000 GP visits per year in the UK for children aged under five with RSV and 34,000 hospitalisations.
Our report also presents additional material, identified in the literature review, on the health impacts on affected children and the nature of the burden on parents and families of caring for a young child with RSV. The consequences of RSV are short-term for the majority of cases, but for some there are long term sequelae including poorer respiratory health in later life. RSV is also responsible for the deaths each year in the UK of an estimated 33 children under five.