Sunday 16 December 2018

Boy (8) died after being refused access to hospital near home

Callum Cartlidge
Callum Cartlidge
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Paramedics trying to save the life of a critically ill boy asked if he could be taken to a hospital three minutes away but were told it was not properly equipped, an inquest has heard.

Callum Cartlidge, described as a friendly, smiley child, died after suffering a cardiac arrest on March 3 2017, less than 24 hours after initially being discharged from hospital.

The eight-year-old, who was having an undiagnosed adrenal Addisonian crisis linked to the rare condition Addison's Disease, was sent home from Worcestershire Royal Hospital with Dioralyte rehydration salts.

Callum suffered a fatal collapse at his Redditch home at about 3.30pm, with a neighbour rushing to give CPR while his parents dialled 999.

On Wednesday, Worcestershire Coroner's Court was told that paramedics asked if the youngster could be treated at Redditch's Alexandra Hospital three minutes away, but were told no.

Assistant coroner David Reid heard that the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust had decided in September 2016 to focus all paediatric care for seriously ill under-16s at its main Worcester site.

The ambulance service issued staff with a guidance note and clinical criteria about patients, updated in January 2017, about the change.

However, despite the move, the inquest heard that the ambulance service's emergency operations staff still rang Alexandra's A& E to double-check whether they could take Callum there.

Reading from the service's official post-incident report by James Wiles, Mr Reid said: "The regional trauma desk, based in the emergency operations centre for critical care, contacted the A&E at the Alexandra Hospital at 3.54pm, to confirm whether they could accept a child in cardiac arrest.

"It was confirmed by the hospital they are not equipped to deal with a patient and they should be transferred to Worcestershire Royal Hospital."

Instead, the boy was taken to Worcester, 23 minutes away, and was confirmed dead, despite the efforts of A&E staff, at 4.35pm.

Announcing the decision in 2016 to focus all critical paediatric care at the Worcester site 35-bed specialist ward, the hospital trust said a shortage of qualified doctors and a need to ensure patient safety was the reason for the change.

Mr Reid also said: "It is clear Callum fulfilled the criteria to be taken to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, or another appropriate emergency department."

The inquest continues.

Press Association

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