Wales’ health care system is struggling to cope with an unprecedented surge in the number of children in need of urgent care, according to a report from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHE).IHE says the number in need for care has jumped by 1,000 per cent in the last three years, from a total of 1,800 children in 2017 to 3,400 children in 2018.
It said that, in 2017, only 5 per cent of children with acute illnesses had access to urgent care.
The figures are part of the IHE’s ongoing report, Children in Need: What They Need to Know, which looks at the challenges facing Wales’ child health system.
IHE’s chief executive, Richard Jones, said: It’s not a great picture but it’s not impossible.
The NHS has been hit by the financial crisis, and we’re now in the middle of a second, even larger crisis.
In Wales, children aged between five and 18 now account for more than 40 per cent of all children in care, with the majority of these in care in Cardiff.
The NHS has already spent a total £3bn on its children’s services in 2017-18, according the IHI report, but the funding gap between the NHS and other parts of the economy is growing.
The IHE report says there is no plan to reduce the funding deficit, and it is working on a strategy to achieve better performance in terms of meeting demand.
The Welsh Government says it has made progress on reducing the NHS’s deficit, but it says it will not be able to meet demand unless there is an immediate turnaround.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said:”The government’s commitment to ensuring that children have access to a high-quality, compassionate and timely care system has been a cornerstone of the government’s reform programme.”
In addition, we have committed to supporting all our NHS services to improve their performance, including the health and care of vulnerable people and communities.
“We have also been in discussions with the Welsh Government to see how we can improve the way we meet the needs of vulnerable young people.”
Read more about Wales and children’s welfare from The Times: Wales’ crisis in numbers article The IHE said that Wales had the highest child mortality rate in Europe, but that the country had managed to cut this by improving access to care and by using technology to reduce delays.
It also highlighted that Wales’ overall child survival rate was only 15 per cent compared to 28 per cent for the UK.
It added that the child death rate in Wales was the highest in Europe and was three times higher than in England and Northern Ireland.
In 2018, Wales recorded 6,829 child deaths, an increase of 40 per 100,000 people, it said.
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