Last year, almost 15,000 children’s operations were cancelled, partly due to a lack of staff and beds.
Data collected under freedom of information laws by the liberal Democrats shows that 14,628 surgeries were canceled in 2022, up from 11,870 the year before and the highest figure in the past five years.
About 77 health service Hospital Trusts in England provided the data, which showed that 59,566 surgeries have been canceled since 2018.
Nearly 4,000 cancellations last year were due to a lack of beds, a 59% increase over the previous year.
About 2,894 pediatric surgeries were canceled due to lack of staff, a 52% increase from the previous year.
Data collected by the Liberal Democrats under freedom of information laws shows 14,628 operations canceled in 2022, up from 11,870 the year before and the highest figure in the past five years (file image)
Meanwhile, 446 were canceled due to equipment problems and 1,100 were scrapped due to a lack of theater time on the day or lists being overbooked.
The data suggests long waiting times for surgery, including a child at Ipswich and Colchester hospitals who waited a year and 62 days for a pediatric procedure, according to the trust.
Other long waiting times for individual child patients were at Royal Free London (1,168 days), Leicester General (1,083 days) and Hull University Teaching Hospitals (1,008 days) according to FOI data.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: ‘The shocking scale of canceled children’s surgeries is a disgrace to this Conservative government.
‘Behind these figures are countless children and parents who have to wait with pain and effort.
“Years of neglect by this government have led to chronic staff shortages and a lack of hospital beds, with communities across the country paying the price.
May’s local elections are an opportunity to signal to this out-of-touch Conservative government that enough is enough.
“We now need a rescue plan to bring local health services back from the brink.”
Saffron Cordery, deputy director at NHS Providers, said: ‘Trust leaders are well aware that far too many children are waiting far too long for the care they need due to a significant shortage of beds, staff and equipment.
“We are seeing a severe strain on children’s services across the health and care system.
“Mental health referrals, including for children and young people, are at an all-time high and there are also long wait times for speech and language therapy, physical therapy and other important community services, including those for neurological needs such as autism and ADHD.
‘It is very important that children and young people are treated in a timely manner, given their developmental needs, but also to prevent the need for more care later on.’
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey (pictured) said: ‘The shocking scale of canceled children’s surgeries is a disgrace to this Conservative government. ‘Behind these figures are countless children and parents who have to wait with pain and suffering’
A spokesman for the Ministry of Health and Social Care 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.
“We also opened 94 new community diagnostic centers that have performed more than 3.5 million tests, checks and scans since July 2021 – supporting patients to get a diagnosis and access treatment faster.
“At the same time, we are growing the healthcare workforce – we are on track to provide an additional 50,000 nurses to the NHS by next year and we are close to meeting our target of providing an additional 26,000 primary care staff.
‘The NHS will soon publish a long-term staffing plan to support and grow the workforce.’