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Children’s surgery backlog grows as NHS prioritises adult waiting lists

Hundreds of thousands of children are waiting for surgery as new figures show the backlog has spiralled by almost 50 per cent in two years.

The latest NHS data for December lays bare the parlous state of paediatric medicine, with NHS leaders and doctors warning that adult care is being prioritised over children’s.

In December 2022, 364,000 children were waiting for treatment, from neurosurgery to ear, nose and throat operations, while a further 200,000 needed community services such as speech and language therapy.

The surgery figure is up by 48%t since April 2021 – a far bigger increase than was seen in the overall NHS waiting list, which grew by 36% over the same period.

Mike McKean, vice-president of policy at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said “Lengthy waits are unacceptable for any patient, but for children and young people, waits can be catastrophic, as many treatments need to be given by a specific age or developmental stage. It is not the same as for adults. If you miss the right window to treat a child, or wait too long, the consequences can be irrevocable.”

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Source: The Independent, 19 February 2023


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