The news that the NHS is being overwhelmed by the numbers of children needing help is something that has not to my knowledge gained many headlines. As we approach the General Election, it is vital that this information is addressed by the parties competing for our votes. The Conservative led coalition are responsible for the state of the NHS in the period prior to September 2014. According to research published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) shows that between September 2014 to September 2015, shortages of nurses and doctors led almost a third of inpatient units (31 per cent) and more than two fifths of neonatal units (41 per cent) to periodically close services for new admissions across the UK. As United Airlines is being criticised for overbooking their airplanes it is surely far more important that our hospitals can accomodate the youngest and most vulnerable members of society. However this information which has only just been made public has been known about since 2014 and so Jeremy Hunt and his team will have been fully aware. Yet despite this, unlike United Airlines the NHS appears not to have addressed this problem
The number of hospital admissions for children in England rose by a quarter (25 per cent) between 2013/14 and 2015/16, from 1.2 million to 1.5 million. Over the same period, the number of children attending accident and emergency departments also increased by seven per cent, from 4.5 million to 4.8 million. Yet the general pediatric and neonatal departments are currently working with an average vacancy rate of 14 per cent. RCPCH president professor Neena Modi described the situation “This is a dangerously under-resourced service”
We need the next Government to be one that is not slow in dealing with these issues.