Critically ill children are being rushed from one part of England to another because NHS hospitals are running short of intensive care beds in which to treat them, the Guardian has revealed.
An increase in severe breathing problems in children driven by winter viruses and infections, including flu, means some are having to be transferred sometimes many miles from their home area because there are not enough paediatric intensive care (PICU) beds locally.
Specialist doctors who staff the units say the situation is “dangerous and rotten for the families” involved and that staff are firefighting to handle the number of children needing sometimes life-saving care, many of whom are on a ventilator to help them breathe.
In the past few weeks, young patients have been sent from the Midlands to Sheffield, from London to Cambridge, and from one side of the Pennines to the other in order to get them a place in a PICU.
One doctor at a PICU in the Midlands said: “PICU beds are always in high demand. But since winter hit this year, around six weeks ago, the situation feels like we are simply firefighting. Many days I come on shift to find there are no beds in [our] region and the patients referred to us end up in Southampton, Sheffield, Oxford and other centres far away."
“The PICU network is overstretched. There aren’t enough beds, nurses or skilled doctors.”
Read full story
Source: The Guardian, 29 December 2019