A Worksop mum is calling on Bassetlaw Hospital bosses to “think of the little ones” before cutbacks to children’s ward services leave her disabled toddler without access to urgent medical care.
Becky Keith says it is not just her three-year-old son Zac who will suffer, but many other poorly Basetlaw children, after it was revealed the ward will close to new admissions after 7pm, overnight and at weekends.
These changes will leave children like Zac, who has cerebral palsy and is blind and non-verbal, with no choice but to travel to Doncaster or Sheffield if the ward is unable to accept him.
Becky said: “I am determined to fight for my son’s rights. Any kind of cuts to the children’s ward at Bassetlaw Hospital could put my family in a terrible position.
“Zac was born at the hospital and has became used to the journey there and certain voices on the ward. A trip to Doncaster or Sheffield hospitals could distress him - and what if he needed emergency care?”
Uncertainties over the future of the ward will not only impact on young patients, but also the wellbeing of their parents, added Becky.
“Caring for a disabled child can be difficult,” she said. “If Zac is admitted to the Bassetlaw ward, I have the peace of mind of knowing he is closer to home.
“I can dash back and have a shower or sleep if needs be. But if he is miles away, that becomes an issue.”
Bassetlaw MP John Mann has spoken out against the changes and has backed Becky’s campaign.
He said: “This is crucial for Zac and other very poorly children like him who are regularly admitted to hospital.
“The staff at Bassetlaw Hospital know Zac and look after him very well.
“They know he will regularly come in to the hospital with chest infections and their knowledge and understanding is of great comfort to Zac’s family.
“It is close to his home and in this country his rights should be an absolute priority.
“There are a number of other very ill children in the area and they always need to be looked after. They are all part of our community.
“This is Zac’s hospital and it is Zac’s right to use it.
“I am standing with Zac and I am calling on the whole of Bassetlaw to do likewise.”
Mike Pinkerton, chief executive at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals Trust, said: “Ensuring our patients are safe is our number one priority.
“Caring for children requires specialist skills and, due to staffing shortages, we have recently had to close our paediatric ward to admissions after 7pm at Bassetlaw Hospital. “As staff shortages in highly specialised areas of the NHS remains a national issue, and recruiting to these posts challenging, from December we have implemented an enhanced daytime service at Bassetlaw, with a view to reduce admissions, which have been moved to Doncaster Royal Infirmary for the short-term.
“In agreement with NHS Bassetlaw clinical commissioning group, we have taken these measures to guarantee we have the right staff in place to ensure we are running a safe service for our patients.
“To improve the current day service, we are maximising opening times and will be hosting special clinics with senior paediatricians each morning to support children’s care.
“All children presenting at Bassetlaw emergency department will continue to be triaged, assessed and cared for and this system will be reviewed if recruitment becomes easier in the future.
“The trust has no plans to stop paediatric services at Bassetlaw and has recently invested more than £250,000 in a state-of-the-art children’s outpatients department at Bassetlaw.
“This ‘mini children’s hospital’ will provide more local people with high-quality services closer to home.”
Becky is determined to fight the changes and you can support the campaign on social media with the hashtag #StandwithZac.