Mother Feared For Her Injured Son As She Drove 90 minutes To An ED In Dungannon From Kilkeel
A distraught mother who says she could not get clear answers from her local GP Out Of Hours service as to where to take her 8-year-old son Harry to for urgent medical treatment is deeply concerned writes Laura Barr
She believes there is a lack of emergency and GP Out Of Hours care in the Southern HSC Trust area.
Jane Martin, who lives in Lisnacree just outside of Kilkeel, found herself living every parent’s worst nightmare last Wednesday (9 September).
Her son Harry had fallen and hurt his leg. The wound was so deep that Jane knew it would require medical attention and stitches.
The incident happened just after 5.30pm, and thinking that her own GP practice would still be open, she telephoned immediately.
Listening to a voice recording on the surgeries answering machine, Jane was informed that due to Covid-19, the practice only stays open until 5.30pm.
Jane knew that the Southern HSC Trust GP Out Of Hours service didn’t start until 6pm. So she took it upon herself to start driving to Newry while waiting for someone to answer her call at 6pm.
Jane said: “I put some plasters on Harry’s leg and got him into the car and started the journey to Daisy Hill hospital ED.
“I had no idea if the Accident and Emergency Department at Daisy Hill was open again.
“When I finally got through to speak to someone on the Out Of Hours number, after a 20 minute wait, all I wanted to know was if the hospital was open.
“I asked the lady I spoke to and she said she was not sure herself and that she would have to check and phone me back.
“Meanwhile, I had Harry in the back of the car who was in a lot of pain at this stage and still bleeding from the wound on his leg.”
Jane was also very anxious about Harry as he is a chronic asthmatic and she was fearful that the traumatic episode could induce an asthma attack.
At the same time, Jane’s husband Richard who works as a taxi driver was on his way back from Craigavon Hospital transporting a lady from Kilkeel who had a suspected life-threatening illness because no ambulance was available to pick the lady up.
“I was told by the receptionist at the Out Of Hours that the nearest place I could take Harry was Dungannon Hospital.
“I had absolutely no idea where I was travelling to and this of course added another element of panic to the situation.
“The lady informed me that I could not travel to Craigavon Hospital as it was being used for Covid-19 patients and I would have a very lengthy wait before being seen.”
So, Jane set of for Dungannon ED.
Once Jane and Harry arrived at the Minor Injuries Unit at Dungannon Hospital they were seen straight away.
“Because it had taken us an hour and a half to get there, they were unable to administer any anaesthetic to Harry before they began stitching his wound,” Jane explained.
“For stitching there is a one-hour time slot before the skin starts to knit together again and because we weren’t there within an hour they had to just start stitching straight away.
“It was very painful for Harry, but he was so brave.”
Jane told Down News that she knows her story could have been “a lot worse” but she felt she had to speak out for many other people who may have lost loved ones or lost out on getting treatment when they needed it because of the lack of nearby services in the Kilkeel and South Down area.
“I totally respect that hospitals have to be very cautious with everything that is going on but at the end of the day there seems to be a whole area in the mournes which is just being completely neglected when it comes to emergency healthcare.
“Annalong, Kilkeel, Warrenpoint and that whole area have no nearby Minor Injuries Unit to facilitate treatment for patients.
“It really is an absolute joke and it doesn’t even bear thinking about if my son had have taken an asthma attack while I was transporting him to Dungannon.
“The fact is that we have a perfectly good ambulance station in Kilkeel and yet I have heard of numerous people unable to get an ambulance when they need one.
“My husband and other taxi men are now having to drive people who ring for an ambulance and are told one isn’t available to hospitals.
“It’s just not good enough and something needs done before actual lives are lost as a result!”
Down News contacted the Southern Health and Social Care Trust and were informed that a response could not be issued to this particular individual case.
They did however inform us that the reopening of Daisy Hill’s Emergency Department has been postponed until mid October from a planned September opening.