Record number of children’s operations cancelled last year – Labour

A record 18,647 emergency and non-emergency children’s operations were cancelled last year, figures show.

The Labour party, which collected the data, described the number as “shameful” and said that since the Tories came to power, children’s operations have been cancelled at least 117,936 times.

Types of operations cancelled include those to treat broken bones, tooth extractions, acute tonsillitis and eye surgery.

They were cancelled for reasons including equipment failure, staffing shortages and critical care bed unavailability.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “The cancellation of an operation brings tremendous anguish and uncertainty which must be especially unsettling for children and their families.

“Behind each of these cancellations is a sick child and their loved ones facing unnecessary distress for entirely avoidable reasons.

“These cancelled operations risk harming children further in the long term and it’s shameful that cancellations have reached this level.”

Ahead of the autumn Budget, the party is calling for the Chancellor to provide more funding for the NHS.

The figures for 2017/18 represent a 58% increase compared to 2011/12 when there were 11,821 operations cancelled.

The highest number of cancelled operations for any trust in this period was 46,151 at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust.

This was followed by Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, with 18,064 operations cancelled since 2011/12, and County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, which cancelled 5,580.

“The fact that thousands of children’s operations – including for broken bones, removing rotten teeth, eye surgery and even breast cancer – have had to be cancelled on this scale reveals yet again an NHS pushed to the brink by the Tories,” Mr Ashworth added.

“Our children deserve better than this which is why the health and wellbeing of every child will be Labour’s priority.

“The Chancellor must act in the Budget on Monday by giving the NHS the funding it needs now and reversing the devastating cuts to public health services that are setting our children’s health back.”

Labour compiled the figures through Freedom of Information requests and received responses from 60 NHS trusts.

A Conservative spokesman, said: “There are 2.1 million more operations taking place a year than in 2010 and hospitals continue to do everything they can to keep last-minute cancellations to a minimum.

“Our balanced approach to the economy means we can spend more on the NHS. We are making an extra £20.5 billion available by 2023/24 to fund a long-term plan – far more than Labour promised. “