Sick child taken 120 miles cash

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The Independent Online
A sick little girl needing intensive care was driven 120 miles in an ambulance because no suitable beds were available in her home area.

The 20-month-old girl was taken to Sunderland General Hospital with breathing problems and when doctors decided she needed intensive care the nearest bed found available was at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

Chris Mullin, Labour MP for Sunderland South, has taken up the matter with Stephen Dorrell, Secretary of State for Health. "This extremely hazardous journey could easily have resulted in the death of the child," he wrote. "Indeed, I understand the ambulance broke down - but fortunately on the return journey.

"The situation could be repeated at any time. As of yesterday, I am told, no children's intensive care beds are available anywhere in the region."

Mr Mullin added: "I hope you will not tell me this is simply a matter for local management to resolve."

Referring to a similar case last year which led to a child's death, he said that the outcome was that "ministers undertook to make available extra resources".

Mr Mullin added: "Obviously, whatever steps were taken have proved inadequate and I will be grateful if you will again review the situation as a matter of urgency in the light of this latest incident."

The girl taken to Edinburgh was out of intensive care within 24 hours and after a week was sufficiently recovered to return home to Wearside.

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