The National Health Service is struggling to cope with the costs of increasing numbers of children who are sick with preventable diseases, as more of the country’s more than 1 million children become more dependent on child care services.
The figures show the service’s budget for primary care rose by £2.4bn in the 12 months to April, according to the latest figures released by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC).
The rise is mainly due to a 3 per cent rise in the number of primary care places available in the NHS, the DHSC said in a statement.
The service now faces a £13bn deficit in 2020-21, with almost all of it related to child care and social care.
Child care and support services will now account for more than 60 per cent of NHS primary care budgets.
As part of its child protection strategy, the Government has also introduced the National Child Protection and Safety Strategy.
With more than 5 million children living in care, it is estimated that around 2.5 million children are in care in England, the highest proportion in Europe.
“Children in care will continue to play a vital role in our health and wellbeing,” the DHCC said.
Over the past year, more than 200,000 children aged under five have died in the UK from preventable causes, according the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics.
Children in day care accounted for just over one per cent (0.8 per cent) of deaths, compared with the 10 per cent in daycare.
Although the NHS is the largest provider of child care in the country, it does not have a dedicated child protection service, and it is not funded to provide support for children who do not want to go to day care.
It also has a funding gap of more than £20bn.
In the last financial year, there were almost 2.2 million children aged six to 17 in day and nursery care, compared to 4.6 million in primary care, according data from the Department of Health.
More than half of all children under the age of six were in day or nursery care in 2020, compared in 2020 to about 44 per cent at the same time last year, according DHSC figures.
A number of factors contribute to this, including the high cost of child welfare support, a lack of support for young people who are in day-care and families living in poverty.
There were more than 13,000 deaths in England in April, the equivalent of nearly one child dying every four hours, according a DHSC statement.
Children aged six through 17 were the most likely to die of preventable disease in the first six months of 2020, according government figures, with 6,931 deaths.
About 60 per a 100 children in day nurseries died in April compared with 44 per 100 in primary schools.
An analysis of DHSC data, published in the Daily Mail newspaper, found that almost half of the children in child care were aged between four and 18.
One in three children aged four to 18 were in care at some point, with another quarter in day cares, and almost half in nurseries.