A 76% increase in the number of children being admitted to hospital with throat infections over the past 10 years has raised further concerns about the issue of healthcare access.

The number of children admitted to hospital with 'minor' throat issues has gone from 12,283 in 1999 to 22,071 in 2010 according to the Imperial College London study.

But, writing in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, study lead Dr Elizabeth Koshy suggested many of those could have been managed more effectively in the community.

"Our study highlights the need to urgently address the issue of healthcare access, with improved models of integrated care within primary and secondary care, to avoid potentially unnecessary hospital admissions for relatively minor infections in the future," she said.

The highest rates were among children aged between one and four years, followed by children aged under one but researchers found that most children were discharged after a short stay so by suggesting that the severity of infection has not increased.

Instead, they suggest that the sharp rise in hospital cases of children with throat infections is probably explained by the large number of children being taken to A&E instead of to see their GP, especially if the infection flares up outside surgery hours.

They also found that a decline in tonsil removal operations in recent years had led to an increase in hospital admissions for severe tonsillitis.

Dr Koshy added that further research was needed to confirm that declining tonsillectomy rates were not associated with an increase in more severe throat infections rates.

"Tonsillectomy is a major and costly operation with potentially serious complications. So it seems sensible for clinicians to maintain a high threshold for referring children with recurrent throat infections for tonsillectomy and restrict it to those children who are most severely affected by these infections," she concluded.

Posted 22/10/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com