Children's wait for medical care in the UK grows alarmingly: NHS
About 3,000 children were waiting for more than 18 months to receive care in November alone, while more than 15,000 were waiting for more than a year.
The latest data from the UK's National Health Service (NHS) revealed that the backlog of children receiving medical care increased by 50% over the past two years.
According to figures, at least 364,000 children are waiting their turn to receive treatment, while another 200,000 are in urgent need of medical care.
"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," Mike McKean, vice president of policy at the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health told The Independent.
"If you miss the right window to treat a child or wait too long, the consequences can be irrevocable," he added, noting that the intensive care capacity was being "pushed to the limits."
Since April 2021, backlog figures have been increasing at unprecedented rates, reaching up to 48%.
In November alone, about 3,000 children were waiting for more than 18 months to receive care, while more than 15,000 were waiting for more than a year.
Surgeries a being rescheduled several times or canceled due to shortages of staffers or beds at the NHS.
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A six-year-old child who was referred for brain surgery in November had her procedure canceled in January due to shortages in staff, states the report.
"The surgeons, anesthetists, operating department staff, porters, recovery staff, and countless others are all assembled, but they haven’t got enough specialist pediatric intensive care nurses to safely cover the intensive care unit.," the mother of the child told The Independent.
"They explain that this regional intensive care unit is busy, and some children can’t be moved because they’re still too ill. The surgical teams have each been making the case for which of the poorly or high-risk children should have tonight’s intensive care bed. It will not be our daughter."
A week ago, the NHS division in England said that pediatric providers were experiencing "significant pressures in emergency departments and pediatric intensive care units."
They also reported a shortage in bed availability.
"On the ground, it feels like it has gotten worse, not better because there has been no specific funding for recovery to cover the disproportionate increase in complexity," said Dr. Michael Absoud, clinical academic at the Department of Women and Children’s Health at Kings College London.
According to NHS leaders, since telephone and written referrals are not accounted for in the data, the number might be far greater than what is officially reported.
One source told The Independent that they believe the backlog had risen by 70% in some specialties over the past two years.
The Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health warned that pediatric services would not figure in the government’s forthcoming plan for the NHS.
The College reportedly called on the government to launch a separate program to deal with children's health.
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Like the rest of European countries, the UK has not been spared from an energy crisis that spiraled into a cost of living crisis.
All sectors, including public health services, have been severely impacted by the effects of the crisis.
Since late last year, Nurses and ambulance workers have been striking separately on and off. However, earlier this month, nurses and health workers held their largest-ever strike in a pay dispute that the health minister said would put additional strain on the National Health Service.
Health workers want a pay increase that reflects Britain's worst inflation in four decades, but the government says it would be unsustainable, causing more price increases, which would raise interest rates and mortgage payments.