Family angry at lack of on-call paediatric doctor in Eastbourne: ‘We need a paediatric – plain and simple’
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On February 3 at 1am Laura Titmuss woke to her daughter Alayna Neen having an asthma attack at their home in Old Town. Laura said this happens a lot at night and, when it does, Alayna needs steroids to get her breathing back under control – something they can only get from hospital.
Laura called 111 and was told a paediatric doctor would need to confirm whether Alayna needed to go to A&E and they would get a call back within an hour.
Laura said by 2am there had been no call so she called 111 again to be told how busy it was and the call would come. At 3am they were called and told Alayna needed to go to A&E, Laura confirmed.
The choice was Brighton or Hastings because Eastbourne DGH’s didn’t have an on-call paediatric doctor available through the night, so they got an appointment in Hastings for 4.15am.
She said, “We always try to go to Eastbourne and get sent to Hastings. There’s no on-call paediatric staff at the DGH and it’s been like that for years.”
They were no ambulances so Laura had to pay £45 for a taxi to the Conquest Hospital and said they arrived with ‘minutes to spare’. She stressed the 720720 taxi driver was ‘brilliant’ getting them there in time.
Alayna was seen and got the steroids needed. However, the experience has left the family asking why there are no on-call paediatric services at the DGH out of hours.
Laura said, “They need at least one paediatric at the DGH through the night. Eastbourne is a no-go for kids, you can’t get ill between 5pm-9am – it doesn’t work like that.
“Eastbourne is too big not to have a paediatric doctor on-call. Every hospital needs a paediatric doctor at all times, it doesn’t matter where you are.
“We need a paediatric – plain and simple.”
John Titmuss, Laura’s father who collected the pair, said, “With the DGH having a large catchment area there should be people on-call; there used to be onsite accommodation for doctors on call, is this not now the case?
“This makes no sense whatsoever; I realise the NHS is overstretched with covid but trips to Hastings in the middle of the night?”
In terms of the travel issue, Laura said if there was a paediatric doctor at the DGH then people wouldn’t need to travel as far, but argued there needs to be something in place for people who can’t get to hospital themselves in the night.
An East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust spokesperson said, “We have on site paediatric cover at Eastbourne District General Hospital from 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday and between 10am and 6pm at weekends.
“Out of hours we are able to treat paediatric cases in our Emergency Department with support from an off-site consultant who would attend if clinically needed.
“If a child needed to be admitted they would be transferred to the Conquest Hospital in Hastings.”