Early 15,000 pediatric surgeries were canceled last year, in part because of a lack of staff and beds, analysis suggests.
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 relies on it England provided the data showing that 59,566 surgeries have been canceled since 2018.
Behind these figures are countless children and parents who have to wait with pain and suffering
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.
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 in 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 mark of shame for this conservative Government.
“Behind these numbers are countless children and parents who have to wait with pain and suffering.
“Years of neglect by this administration have led to chronic staff shortages and a lack of hospital beds, with communities across the country paying the price.
It is very important that children and young people receive timely treatment, given their developmental needs, but also to avoid the need for more care later on
“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 abyss.”
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 see a severe strain on services for children across the health and care system.
“Mental health referrals, including for children and youth, are at an all-time high, with long wait times for speech and language therapy, physical therapy and other key 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 avoid the need for more care later on.”
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, helping patients 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.”