Sunday, 15 July 2007

Baby shambles

If the NHS is getting better all the time, as the government claims, why did pregnant 22 year old Karen Shaw have to be airlifted from Northern Ireland to a Scottish hospital because neo-natal cots weren't available?

This was hardly a rare medical condition that took the Causeway Hospital by surprise, with the resources needed simply unplanned for.

Karen was expecting twins and her waters broke seven weeks prematurely - as happens frequently to mothers-to-be. But the hospital was unable to cope and had to send her elsewhere.

Her stepfather Paul Parry said she had been "terrified and traumatised" and criticised the local health service as "underfunded and farcical".

Karen has already lost one child after a miscarriage so naturally she was scared of losing the twins. She nearly lost them early in the pregnancy.

The hospital didn't explain the lack of neo-natal cots but claimed there was no risk as two specialist midwives accompanied her on the flight.

But you have to ask why the cots weren't available when premature birth is so common and maternity services are one of the major elements of the NHS.

How can such a basic failure occur when so many billions have just been pumped into the health service? And isn't it ironic that the airlift across the Irish Sea (over 100 miles) probably cost more than the missing cots?

PS: Karen has now given birth to healthy twin boys.

Photo: Karen Shaw


Medbh said...

Dear goddess she looks like she's 14.
Glad she pulled through with the wee ones.

Nick said...

Causeway Hospital must be thinking that as well. Just suppose she had lost them - they'd have some explaining to do.

Fiona- Moment by Moment said...

This is happening all over the world.
I am from Australia and a mother of a premature baby girl who was born at 27weeks 5days making her 12weeks and 2days early weighing in at 861grams. Sometimes areas go on red light only leaving a few beds available and if you have multiples or someone else has a baby before you then your sent off the the next closest bed. There are cases where multiples have been split up as its safer for your baby to be at a hospital that has all the facilities to care for she or he. It is much better to be at the treating NICU before the baby or babies are born other wise they need to be stabilized before they can be transfered and this is a very critical time in a premmie babies life .
As medical technology advances we become more and more aware of these issues. In the past my daughter would not have survived but today thanks to the Australian Government providing such technology she did!!
I had pre eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome which only happens when your pregnant and effect 1 in 10 pregnancies in Australia.
Yes more resources are always welcome and yes we can always improve on things but firstly I really think we all need to be thankful for the help we do get. I am not sure what its like in your country but in Australia our health system is run by our government and with every area of our community needing money its hard to know where to put it?
Maybe fundraising for the hospital in question is what is needed. These cots cost quite a bit and maintaining them and running a cot costs hundreds of thousands of dollars every year so its not just about providing a cot.

I am glad to hear that Karen and her boys are well. Even though she would be distressed with having to be moved around in the long run she and her family will have to see its better to travel to a whole different county then to stay in an area that does not have the facilities to care for her and her baby boys.

Nick said...

Hi Fiona. Thanks for all that useful info, particularly about Oz (Have been to Sydney and Hobart myself BTW). Interesting that you basically defend the hospital and the health service and say we should be grateful for all the superb help we get.

Yes our health service is run by the government too. I didn't realise the cots cost so much to maintain, but a lot of vital health equipment like scanners cost a lot also and as I say literally billions have been poured into the NHS recently.

As a socialist, I don't like the idea of hospitals having to fundraise to get what they need, as it then becomes a lottery as to what facilities a hospital ends up with - possibly very poor ones.

Certainly I agree the mother should go to the best equipped hospital even if it's some distance away. Karen could have gone to a hospital in the Republic of Ireland (County Donegal is not far away) but it seems we have no reciprocal arrangements for treatment.

Jenny said...

I think we might have reciprocal arrangements in some cases, I'm not sure. But this episode shows that we need a proper all-Ireland health policy, including a response to emergencies. Even having to go to Dublin would be better than Scotland because, er, there's no water involved - it's easier for visits and of course much easier to get home with 2 small babies.