Sunday, November 11, 2007

Children's Beds Closed at City Hospital 5th November

The Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust went ahead and closed the children's beds at City on the 5th November. The views of local people expressed as a decisive vote, the views of the consultant medical staff at City Hospital have been completely ignored.

The Trust have produced a 38 page Operational Policy for their new Children's Assessment Unit and a 21 page Children's Transfer Policy. Staff will turn over quite rapidly at both hospitals. Just imagine the scope here for confusion!

Let us look for a moment at what the Operational Policy for the Children's Assessment Unit has to say about General Practitioner Referrals. All calls to the children's doctors at City will go to the Sandwell Children's Registrar. Apparently children may be triaged over the phone and sent to the inpatient unit at Sandwell. No choice here for parents or children. This makes a complete nonsense of the government's choice agenda, at least as far as the deprived area of West Birmingham is concerned. Everybody else gets their children cared for at their local hospital.

Apparently if it looks as if a child needs less than 23 hours in hospital, the GP will be able to send the child to the Children's Assessment Unit at City. However if the child fails to beat the clock and the 23 hour deadline is looming then it's off to West Bromwich.

Interestingly they have a plan. If the beds are full in the City Hospital Children's Assessment Unit, a child may need to be "accommodated" in the Emergency Department. Is this high quality care?

There will be only 12 beds on the Children's Assessment Unit. This sounds like a totally inadequate number to me. This probably explains why they are clearly worried about what to do when 10 of them are full. There is talk of the poor Senior House Officer or Registrar "reviewing the situation" and ascertaining any possible discharges or transfers. "In extreme circumstances and for short periods of time, children awaiting discharge will vacate their beds and step down into a chair or an extra bed flex-up will be utilised while discharges and/or transfers are arranged."
Real 21st Century Care for the children of West Birmingham!

The West Midlands Ambulance Service has been requested not to bring any child requiring "blue light" ambulance transfer to City Hospital Emergency Department. As Birmingham Children's Hospital is only increasing its bed complement by three where will these poor children go? To Sandwell if they have a bed, if not further afield, Heartlands? Good Hope? the Manor Walsall? Who knows?

It continues: "Any seriously ill unstable child/young person will remain in the Emergency Department until they are stable enough for transfer to the Children's Assessment Unit. If they are likely to need inpatient stay over 23 hours they will be transferred to the inpatient unit (Sandwell) as soon as they are stable enough for transfer in an ambulance from the Children's Assessment Unit."

We have moved from a high quality Children's Service at City Hospital where children received all their care under one roof to one where the children will be moved from pillar to post. Continuity of care will be a nightmare. The changing junior medical and nursing staff will need to keep the script with them in order not to lose the plot.

This inferior service has been thrust on local people for no supportable reason. There was an alternative plan that would have kept the lights on in the Children's Ward at City Hospital but it was ignored by the Trust Management.

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