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Safety fears for hundreds of ‘hidden’ children on ventilators

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Experts have warned hundreds of “hidden” children who rely on machines to help them breathe at home are at significant risk of harm due to staff shortages, poor equipment and a lack of training.

The number of children who rely on long-term ventilation is rising but new research has shown the dangers they face with more than 220 safety incidents reported to the NHS between 2013 and 2017.

In more than 40% of incidents the child came to harm, with two needing CPR after their hearts stopped. Other children had to have emergency treatment or were rushed back to hospital.

Many parents reported concerns with the skills of staff looking after their children or reported paid carers falling asleep while caring for their child. Families reported having to cover multiple night shifts due to staff shortages, while also having to care for their child during the day. Other patient safety incidents including broken or faulty equipment or information on packaging that did not match the item or incorrect equipment being delivered.

Consultant Emily Harrop, who led the study, said it was “easy for the plight of individual complex children to slip down the agenda”.

She warned: “This is a very hidden group of very vulnerable children who are at risk without investment in staffing, access to training and good communication."

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Source: The Independent, 18 December 2019

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