A Westbrook mum says underfunding of hospitals could end up costing a child’s life after a frightening experience with her son at Margate’s QEQM Hospital.
Secondary school teacher Max Campbell took her five-year-old son Mateo to QEQM on February 2 after he became lethargic and confused.
The 28-year-old had just picked up partner Kieran Fleet from work at Westwood when he saw Mateo was becoming increasingly poorly.
Max said: “We went to A&E and arrived at 6.50pm and they put us through to paediatrics. Mateo was quite warm by that point. We were sat in the waiting room and about 7.20pm Mateo said his stomach, legs and throat were hurting.
“I went out and said I was really concerned, that my son was really hot and he did not seem well at all. He was really lethargic.
“They (staff) said they would come and see us but after another 15 minutes I started to push as he had not had any obs (routine observation checks for temperature and respiratory rates) done and I was really worried in case the stomach pain was appendicitis.
“Just after 7,45pm the nurse came and did his obs and about 30 seconds after she walked out of the room he had a massive seizure. He was in my arms and I screamed the place down.
“Then about 12 people rushed in. The seizure lasted around three and a half minutes and they took him to resus. I just screamed because I thought he had died.
“My partner was asking for help but they were rushed off their feet and there seemed to be three or four nurses for a dozen patients.”
Max emphasised that staff at QEQM were ‘amazing’ and she feels the situation was due to chronic underfunding of the NHS leaving staff overstretched.
Mateo was kept at the hospital for two days and is due to have some tests for epilepsy.
Max said: “If he had been seen and maybe had some paracetamol to bring his temperature down he may not have had the seizure. The worry is I had a five-year-old who was very poorly but waited over an hour for observation. If that was a child with sepsis it could have cost their life.
“It’s not the fault of QEQM staff, after the seizure their care was exemplary but they need more resources. The staff never sat down; they were run off their feet.
“Hospitals need more funding; they need more staff and they need more help before a kid dies. An hour for observation for a kid with sepsis – and Mateo had a lot of similar symptoms – could be life or death.
“We are lucky that it was a seizure and not a life-threatening illness.”
East Kent Hospitals Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer Sarah Hayes said: “Staff are working hard to provide the best care for every child and young person.
“We are sorry that Mateo’s family had concerns and welcome the opportunity to discuss their concerns with them.”
The latest A&E figures released by government cover the month of January and show there were more than 13,343 major A&E attendances to East Kent Hospitals Trust sites at QEQM Margate and William Harvey in Ashford. Of these 5723 people were admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours and 7620 took more than four hours.
There were a total of 4170 emergency admissions via A&E plus 990 admissions via other services, totalling 5160. Some 1889 people waited over four hours for a bed and 1368 waited over 12 hours for a bed.
East Kent Hospitals Trust said they were unable to comment on the lack of funding raised by Ms Campbell but say the clinical care was correct and staffing levels were appropriate at the time of Mateo’s attendance.
Last year a bid to government for £460million to transform health care in east Kent was rejected.
The funding from the government’s New Hospitals Programme had been earmarked to radically improve services in east Kent but East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust was informed that the bid had been denied.
However, work has taken place on a multi-million-pound expansion of the emergency department at QEQM featuring a new children’s emergency department, large new treatment areas for adults, dedicated areas for patients with mental health needs, a new entrance for patients and waiting area.
Last December the hospital trust’s board of directors were told that at the end of October it had recorded a black hole of £68.2 million, making it one of the most financially challenged trusts in the country.