Thousands of hospital operations for children are being cancelled every year owing to a lack of beds, staff and equipment in the NHS.
NHS figures, released after a Freedom of Information request from the Labour Party, revealed that at least 46,211 operations for children were cancelled over the last four years.
Last year a ‘shocking’ 12,349 procedures, which include operations to repair broken bones and remove rotten teeth, were cancelled – with doctors leaders warning that the numbers show the NHS is at breaking point.
BMA council chair Mark Porter said: ‘When the sustained under-funding and under-resourcing of the NHS starts to impact on our children’s health it is time to say enough is enough.
‘The tens of thousands of children’s operations cancelled over the past four years reveal the true picture of an NHS at breaking point, buckling under the increasing pressure felt across the service.
‘Our hospitals and GP surgeries are full, social care is collapsing, NHS staff are working under impossible conditions, and patients – of all ages - are being let down.
‘As we approach a general election, I call on politicians of all parties not to duck this crisis any longer, and instead outline credible plans that will deliver the fully funded and supported NHS that staff want and patients deserve.’
The figures are actually likely to be significantly higher as the results of the FoI request only cover around half of England’s 153 NHS hospital trusts.
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health president Neena Modi 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.’
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