The National Paediatric Accelerator

Premature newborn baby girl


Paediatric services were badly hit by Covid: as well as the restrictions facing all services, some Trusts gave over paediatric beds to adults, or allocated children’s nurses to adult services.

As a result, children’s waiting lists were very badly affected and rising significantly faster than for adults.

But the priority in national policy was recovery of adult services. Most of the post-Covid recovery packages such as the Transformation and Innovation Fund (TIF), funding for surgical hubs and community diagnostic centres, and other key initiatives, were almost entirely, or exclusively, focused on adult services.


  • In 2021 the Government announced £160m to support an Accelerator programme to support systems in recovering from Covid.
  • The Children’s Hospital Alliance successfully argued that there should be at least one Accelerator focused on children and young people. 10 Trusts quickly worked together to develop a business case and we were awarded £20m.
  • Most of the funding was distributed to Trusts directly, to support transformation of services, with shared learning and collaboration between the Trusts.
  • £1.25m was held centrally to fund an innovation programme, developing a new AI tool and rolling it out across the 10 Trusts.
  • £0.5m funded a central PMO and development of a shared dataset.

The members of the National Paediatric Accelerator programme

A map of the UK showing the locations of 10 trusts that are members of the National Paediatric Accelerator programme


Elective Recovery

  • One of the top performing Accelerator programmes nationally.
  • The CHA Trusts delivered more activity than pre-Covid (2019-20), in some of the most challenging situations the NHS has ever seen.
  • The five ‘core’ (largest) Trusts delivered 104% of pre-Covid activity.


  • The WNB funding paid for some ground-breaking work in Trusts, which led to long-term changes in delivery of care.
  • Examples include: funding the development of Virtual Reality as an alternative to anaesthetic in Leeds and Birmingham; supporting development of new high-intensity approaches to theatres and improving flow in Sheffield, GOSH, Manchester and Birmingham; trialling new roles to align physical and mental health in Bristol; rolling out new software to support pre-op assessment at the Evelina; expanding home-based sleep services as an alternative to acute care in Southampton.
  • The Trusts also worked together to deliver extra activity on Super Saturdays.


  • We successfully developed and rolled out the WNB AI Tool, across 10 Trusts.

Data and Business Intelligence

  • We developed the first robust post-Covid data on paediatric WL.
  • We developed data analysis to understand and address inequalities in access to paediatrics, particularly for ethnic minorities and patients with autism / ADHD.

An evaluation of the Accelerator Programme is available to download on the publications section of our website here.

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