Thousands of children’s operations cancelled each year, NHS figures show

Paediatricians’ leader says figures obtained by Labour are further evidence NHS is being pushed to the brink.

Thousands of operations on children are being cancelled each year, often because NHS hospitals do not have enough beds, staff or equipment.  Procedures to repair broken bones, remove rotten teeth or insert grommets are among the 46,211 operations that have been cancelled over the last four years, NHS figures show.

A total of 12,349 surgeries on children and young people were cancelled during 2016-17 alone, in the latest sign that under-pressure hospitals are struggling to give patients timely care.  The real number of cancellations is likely to be much higher as the figures obtained by Labour under freedom of information laws cover barely half of England’s 153 acute hospital trusts.

Prof Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “These figures are shocking, all the more so as they clearly reflect only the tip of the iceberg, and are further evidence that the NHS is being pushed to the brink. Children are harmed by delays in operations, and for some the damage may be long-term.”

Hospitals are under increasing pressure amid rising demand, staffing problems and an unprecedented financial squeeze. The figure of 12,349 cancelled children’s operations last year was 35% higher than the 2013-14 figure of 9,128.

Full story in The Guardian 5 June 2017