Boy dies after shuttle between hospitals

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The Independent Online
Two NHS trusts promised a full inquiry into the case of a 10-year-old boy who died with a brain haemorrhage after being shuttled between four hospitals.

Nicholas Geldard, was moved between three hospitals in Greater Manchester before being driven 45 miles through a snowstorm to a fourth in Leeds. By the time a scan confirmed the haemorrhage, doctors were unable to save him.

Nicholas, from Offerton, Stockport, collapsed last Thursday and was taken to Stockport Infirmary. His mother, Cath, said it took 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. At the hospital he was seen by a nurse, but not a doctor, she claimed. Mrs Geldard said a decision was taken to give Nicholas a scan at Stepping Hill Hospital.

However, the ambulance transfer took an hour and because the scanner at Stepping Hill operates between 9am and 5pm, when Nicholas got there, it was closed. Doctors decided to carry out the scan next day, but when the boy's condition deteriorated it became clear they could not wait. He was given a scan at Hope Hospital, also in Greater Manchester, which confirmed slow bleeding was putting pressure on his brain.

An operation was vital. But then doctors hit another snag - no paediatric intensive care beds available. The only available bed was at Leeds General, 45 miles away. When, Nicholas reached there, after an ambulance drive through a snowstorm, he was dead.

Mrs Geldard said: "We are very, very angry. You put your life in the hands of the health service yet Nicholas was fatally let down. This shouldn't happen ever again. It was a nightmare."

Ann Coffey, Labour MP for Stockport, echoing Labour's call for a Department of Health inquiry, said: "There are two serious issues. One is why a very expensive scanner paid for by public subscription is not available after 5pm, and second is the unavailability of intensive care beds. "In the north-west we have some very fine hospitals, very fine doctors and very good facilities. But if because of the way the internal market operates you can't use these facilities, it raises questions about planning and the use of resources. I want this to be investigated at a very high level."

Stockport Healthcare NHS Trust and Stockport Acute Services NHS Trust said in a joint statement: "This is a distressing set of circumstances in which every effort was made by trusts to avoid the ultimately tragic outcome. We offer our deepest sympathy to the family of Nicholas Geldard." The trusts said a "full inquiry" would be held. Preliminary inquiries had indicated that "good clinical practice was observed".