childhospitalThe number of children being admitted to hospital each year in England has increased year on year over the past decade, according to researchers.

A report from the department of primary care health services at Oxford University showed 739,000 children under 15 were admitted in 2010, up from 594,000 in 1999, with the greatest increase was in children under five years of age.

Even discounting for an ever-increasing birth rate [www.jfhc.co.uk/ons_figures_show_birth_rate_doubled_every_year_for_decade_31263.aspx], there was still a 28% increase in the admissions rate during the 2000s and experts fear the strain of growing demand could lead to standards dropping.

Dr Hilary Cass, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "These latest statistics further serve to highlight that the way hospital services are currently arranged means we're in danger of not providing children with the highest possible standard of healthcare when they fall ill.

"The health service is coming under increasing pressure and demand, so it's more important than ever that we look to settings outside of the hospital to address this."

Admissions in children under 12 months increased by 52% and the rate increased by 25% in those aged between one and four. The researchers said possible explanations included:

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

The study also suggested much of the rise was caused by "common infections" that required very short hospital stays - something which study lead Peter Gill says are not "being coped well with".

He added: "These cases should be the 'bread and butter' of community care but many more are now being admitted, putting pressure on hospital services and increasing the risk of hospital-acquired infections."

Posted 12/02/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com