Advising with empathy and experience

Child waits 47 weeks for spinal surgery.

A 12-year old boy with a severe curvature of the spine, scoliosis, had to wait 47 weeks before being admitted to hospital for surgery.

The story of the child, Keilan, was revealed in the BBC Two series, Hospital, filmed at Nottingham University Hospitals, one of the country's biggest and busiest trusts.

Keilan's operation, aimed at correcting and straightening his spine, had been scheduled for the middle of winter when there was a crisis and NHS England advised every hospital to suspend all routine operations.

Although paediatrics is usually protected from cancellations, the high number of patients being treated at the Queen's Medical Centre, where Keilan was taken for surgery, meant his operation had been delayed twice.

The child’s case highlights how growing pressure on a hospital can lead to delays which affect patients' conditions.

Keilan’s father, Lee, said: "As time goes on, his curve has gone from 35 to 80 degrees in less than two years."

Born at 28 weeks and weighing just more than 1.5lb (600g), Keilan was given a 10 per cent chance of survival and placed in an incubator for the first 19 weeks of his life.

After a few years his spine started to show some signs of scoliosis, which eventually started to affect his breathing.

One of the country's leading consultant orthopaedic spinal surgeons, Mike Grevitt, said: "Keilan's spine was so severely bent on one side of his body that his ribs were crowded, which gave him breathing problems."

Because of these breathing difficulties, there were concerns that once under anaesthetic, Keilan's lungs might not be able to cope with the surgery and that he would have to be placed in paediatric intensive care to recover after the operation.

But a shortage of beds in the unit put the surgery in doubt.

Mike Greviit added: "It's a fact that, on any winter's day, there may be only a handful of beds in the country for paediatric critical care."

Keilan's operation took five hours and consisted of screwing metal rods alongside his spine.

The surgery enabled the boy to gain 2.5 inches (6.5cm) in height and he was reassured afterwards that his scoliosis was permanently treated.

Mr Grevitt, who has treated a range of spinal disorders, many highly complicated, said: "This is certainly the most challenging operation we will do this year."