Hospitals send patients home to be cared for by children as young as four

It says kids as young as four are looking after their sick parents.

Chief executive Javed Khan said: “Many health professionals simply treat the person in front of them rather than ask questions about who’s caring for them when they go home. Caring can take a huge toll on children’s wellbeing and future chances.”

There are nearly 700,000 young carers in the UK, according to stats from the BBC and Nottingham University.

Barnardo’s believes numbers have increased as more families struggle for support because of cuts. Their average age is 12 and some work more than 30 hours a week, cooking, cleaning and shopping.

Barnardo’s survey of young carers: