Child hospital stays ‘keep rising’

Child hospital stays ‘keep rising’

Child admissions are increasing.

The variety of children being admitted to hospital every year in England has increased during the last decade, in response to researchers.

A report in Archives of Disease in Childhood showed 739,000 children under 15 were admitted in 2010, up from 594,000 in 1999.

The greatest increase was in children under five years of age.

Experts said the stress of growing demand may lead to standards dropping.

There was a surge in births within the UK, but even accounting for the growing numbers of kids there has been still a 28% increase within the admissions rate between 1999 and 2010.

Admissions in children under twelve months increased by 52% and the speed increased by 25% in those aged between one and 4.

The researchers said possible explanations included:

  • changing behaviour of parents
  • a scarcity of out-of-hours GPs
  • NHS direct recommending parents take their child to hospital
  • hospitals admitting children so that it will avoid breaking the four-hour A&E waiting times
  • doctors being more cautious and admitting more patients

The study showed much of the upward push was because of “common infections” that required very short hospital stays.

One of the report’s authors, Peter Gill, from the dept of primary care health services on the University of Oxford, said these cases needs to be the “bread and butter” of community care and admissions put pressure on hospital services and carried the chance of hospital-acquired infections.

“The system is just not coping well with these illnesses,” he said.

Dr Hilary Cass, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “These latest statistics further serve to spotlight that the best way hospital services are currently arranged means we’re in peril of not providing children with the top possible standard of healthcare after they get ill.

“The health service is coming under increasing pressure and insist, so it’s more important than ever that we glance to settings outside of the hospital to deal with this.”

She said more services had to be offered outside of hospitals, with paediatricians working more closely with GPs.