Hospital waiting horror


Children’s hospital waiting lists have soared to 350,000 for the first time, according to the NHS, and paediatricians are calling on the government to take urgent action. This is the highest figure on record since the birth of the health service.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health say that long waits for care are particularly harmful for children as they can impair their mental and physical development at a critical time of life. They add that paediatricians and child health teams are working hard to bring the longest waits down but they work within a system that does not prioritise children’s needs.

Further shocking statistics reveal that:

  • The waiting list has grown by over 100,000 in just one year from April 21 – April 22.
  • Half of all children are waiting more than 12 weeks for treatment.
  • Only 65.4 per cent of children were seen within 18 weeks in the year April 21/22, falling way below the NHS target of 92 per cent.
  • The average waiting time for children and young people is nearly three months (11.8 weeks).
  • Regional variation is high with NHS Oxfordshire seeing waits per 100,000 of 230.1 children, whereas NHS Sheffield CCG has a waiting list per 100,000 children of 5,491.5

President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Camilla Kingdon says: ‘We need to start prioritising children so that they have the prospect of a healthy childhood. Lengthy waits can be catastrophic for them as many treatments need to be given by a specific age or developmental stage.

She adds: ‘If the government is serious about levelling up Britain and giving every child the best start in life, we need a proper response including a child health action plan, combined with a clear plan for a strong child health workforce to provide the right care for those at the start of their lives. This is the mark of any decent society.’

The College is calling for a Government-led child health strategy which puts children at the centre of its decision-making, a workforce plan to map staff shortages and start tacking them, and improved data collection to understand where backlogs are building up.