According to leaked records from the NHS, the rate of recovery for children services has not kept up with the volume of adult elective treatment.
Hospitals are failing to address the growing backlog of children who need surgery as it passes 400,000 for the first time. The waiting lists for both inpatient and outpatient care for children are “growing at double the pace of adults,” according to leaked records, and despite efforts, services have not caught up after being suspended during the pandemic.
Despite warnings that services for children have been “deprioritized” in order to reduce adult waiting lists, NHS authorities have consistently expressed their concerns about the backlog.
One NHS executive cautioned that long waits would jeopardise some children’s “capacity to enjoy full and active lives” and exacerbate existing disparities between adult and paediatric care.
Terrible situation for young patients and parents
In the region with the worst results, the east of England, the rate of paediatric surgery is 15% lower than the rate for adults.
Children who waited more than 78 weeks for hospital care increased by 43% from September 2021 to March 2022, compared to a 21% increase for adults. In 2022, compared to children, 70% more adults underwent scans and other diagnostic procedures that were required for surgery.
The disclosure was made as the number of children on the NHS waiting list surpassed 403,000 for the first time on Thursday and as England’s total waiting list reached a record 7.3 million.
The data, however, are likely to conceal the full scope of the waits because they do not take into account other specialties and community services. In those sections, there was a 227,000-person waiting list for children in March.