Care waiting lists for children are rising at double the rate of the adult backlog, a top doctor has warned.
The waiting list for children’s care, including surgeries, hit 360,000 in May, the latest NHS data shows, and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) warned it is set to get worse amid worsening summer pressures.
In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Dr Camilla Kingdon, president of RCPCH, said children’s services hadn’t been adequately prioritised since taking a hit during the pandemic, which was compounded by an “extremely busy summer”.
She said children’s services now faced a “perfect storm” as they struggled to meet demand due to the increased pressure of viruses not previously seen at high levels during summer, and staff being off sick with Covid.
Dr Kingdon said: “I don’t think it’s a surprise at all, that the waiting lists are rising. I think the truth is that the rate of rise of the waiting list for children is more than double the rate of rise for adults.”
An NHS spokesperson said: “It is right that hospitals have been prioritising patients with the most urgent clinical need. The number of people waiting the longest – which includes many children – has dropped by more than 80 per cent since January.”
But Dr Kingdon warned the official waiting list data, published by NHS England, was a “gross underestimation” of the actual number of children waiting for care overall.
She said: “We’re not even collecting the data adequately to be able to truly understand the extent of the problem.”
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Source: The Independent, 21 July 2022