THOUSANDS of children had surgeries canceled last year because of the NHS crisis.
New analysis shows 14,628 pediatric surgeries were called off in hospitals across England in 2022, with lack of beds the most important reason.
Cancellations have risen by a quarter to the highest level in at least five years, a survey by the Liberal Democrats found.
Some young people have left waiting more than three years before treatment.
Party leader Ed Davey said: “This is an embarrassment to the Government.
“Behind these numbers are countless children and parents who have to wait with pain and suffering.
“Years of neglect have led to chronic staff shortage and a lack of hospital beds, with communities across the country paying the price.
Data on freedom of information from 77 health service hospital trusts revealed that nearly 4,000 cancellations were due to a lack of beds on the ward.
Another 2,894 had to be postponed due to staff shortages, and another 1,100 had to be suppressed because operating theaters were short on time or overbooked.
The total was up 23 percent from 11,870 in 2021 and was higher than the 12,984 in 2019.
NHS Providers, representing hospital bosses, said there is “serious pressure” on children’s services.
The longest-waiting children have been on lists for more than three years, with at least four more than 1,000 days behind schedule.
NHS Providers deputy chief Saffron Cordery said there are “significant shortages of beds, staff and equipment”.
She added: “It is really important that children and young people receive timely treatment, given their developmental needs and to avoid the need for more care later on.”
Patricia Marquis, director of the Royal College of Nursing added: “Any cancellation will have caused stress and anxiety for children and their parents and carers – as well as nursing staff.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Health said: “Eliminating waiting lists is one of the Prime Minister’s five priorities.
“The NHS has already virtually eliminated waiting times of more than two years for treatment, while waiting times of 18 months have been reduced by more than 80% since peaking in September 2021.
“At the same time, we are growing the healthcare workforce and the NHS will soon publish a long-term workforce plan.”