NHS 111 non-emergency service tells Alford mum ‘not to go to’ Skegness Hospital after three-year-old suffers concussion

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A mother of a three-year-old boy has spoken of her shock after being told not to go to Skegness Hospital by the NHS non-emergency service when her son suffered concusion.

Stephanie Hewson, from Alford recently phoned the NHS 111 service for advice after her son suffered concussion following a head injury, which knocked back his two front teeth.

She was shocked after being told over the phone that neither of her two most local hospitals, Skegness Hospital or Louth Hospital would be able to see her after her boy started to be sick around 1am on March 15, following his earlier fall at 5pm.

Stephanie, who knew she didn’t have enough petrol in her car at the time to travel to Boston then went from Alford to Skegness to fill up with petrol, only to leave Skegness to travel to Boston, (due to the lack of open petrol stations between Alford and Boston at that time of night) - a round trip of around 61 miles, so her son could receive treatment.

This prompted her to question whether or not Skegness had a 24-hour A & E service.

Indeed, Skegness Hospital is not now called an Accident and Emergency centre and was rebranded in April last year, as an ‘Urgent Care Centre’.

However assurances were made at the time that health services at the hospital would not be downgraded.

Speaking last year, Urgent Care lead manager at NHS Lincolnshire, Lizzie Carroll-Thorn said:“When it becomes an Urgent Care Centre it will be business as usual at Skegness Hospital – this is not a downgrading of services.”

An out-of-hours service was then created and welcomed as an improvement to enable more patients to be treated at Skegness Hospital; cutting out many inconvenient trips to Boston.

Stephanie said: “I only considered my son’s concussion to be mild, but the advice given over the phone that my son could only be seen at Boston was confusing.

“If it had been serious, then surely that extra 10 miles could make all the difference too”.

Despite this, Stephanie added: “ I could not fault the level of care my son got at Boston, it was just the hassle of getting there. He was seen within five minutes and we were out in 20.”

When asked whether the operator’s advice was right, NHS communications officer Sarah Howells said: “The NHS 111 service is a telephone led service which is designed to direct patients to the health service which would provide the best possible care for their symptoms.

“All calls are answered by highly trained advisors who ask a series of questions to understand what the needs of the patient are.

“Stroke, heart attack or head injury symptoms, for example, are considered high risk. For the patient’s own welfare they would either be directed to a hospital that provides more specialist services, or an ambulance will be sent.”