Children and young people face 'long waits' to see physiotherapists, with operations cancelled
Many children in England are waiting too long to see a physiotherapist in the NHS, according to Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive at NHS Providers. Ms Cordery was responding to research compiled by the Liberal Democrats and released today (3 April), which shows that nearly 15,000 children's operations were cancelled at hospitals in England last year.
Some children have been waiting for more than three years for an operation – with shortages in beds and staff being, at least partly, to blame, Ms Cordery pointed out.
‘Mental health referrals, including for children and young people, are at an all-time high with long waits also being seen for speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, and other key community services including those for neurological needs such as autism and ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder].’
'Severe pressures' on services
Apart from children and young people needing timely treatment because of their developmental needs, delays can lead to more care being required at a later stage, Ms Cordery added.
‘Trust leaders are acutely aware that far too many children are waiting far too long for the care they need because of significant shortages of beds, staff and equipment. We're seeing severe pressures on children's services right across the health and care system.’
Data obtained by the Liberal Democrats under freedom of information laws showed that a record high 14,628 children’s operations were postponed in 2022, up from 11,870 the year before and the highest in five years of data examined.
The results of the Liberal Democrats research, which featured on the front page of today’s Guardian (3 April), came a few days after the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said that the health and wellbeing of children and young people was ‘steadily worsening’.
Mental health referrals, including for children and young people, are at an all-time high with long waits also being seen for speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, and other key community services ... [Saffron Cordery]
Spotlight on poverty
Last week (31 March), RCPCH president Camilla Kingdon said that millions of children in the UK live in poverty and that a fresh ‘political appetite’ was needed to tackle it. ‘For paediatricians this is a devastating, but it does not come as a surprise. After all, we now have 4.2 million children living in poverty in the UK.'
Dr Kingdon said that ‘incredible’ healthcare professionals were committed to tackling the problems. They had repeatedly issued warnings about the ‘insidious nature of child poverty’, which ‘takes hold at an early age and can destroy a child’s future by stretching long into adulthood’.
She added that: ‘It determines the food, or lack of, a child eats, the quality of air they breathe and even a child’s life expectancy. It is systemic and wholly unjust.’
Asthma and deaths
Paediatricians are concerned about worsening health outcomes for children with respiratory issues who live in poverty, for example. The RCPCH noted: ‘Asthma and Lung UK found that areas where people are more likely to experience poor lung health are also areas where people experience higher levels of deprivation.
‘This is particularly concerning given that asthma is the most common long-term condition among children and young people, with 1.1 million children currently receiving asthma treatment.
‘[Asthma] continues to be among the top 10 causes of emergency hospital admission for children in the UK, with more admissions occurring in deprived areas. The UK currently has the highest mortality rate in Europe for children and young people with the underlying cause of asthma.’
To read the full report in the Guardian, visitAuthor: Ian A McMillan