‘It’s a mess ... nobody knows what to do’

June Lahney pictured with grandaughter Neve.
June Lahney pictured with grandaughter Neve.

A FAMILY have hit out at emergency health care in Hartlepool amid confusion over where a stricken 10-year-old scalding victim should have been treated.

Neve Lahney was left screaming in pain after her mum, Kelly Hugill, accidentally spilled a boiling hot cup of tea over her in the kitchen of their home.

But in a chain of events which highlights some residents’ confusion over urgent health care in town following the closure of A&E at the University Hospital of Hartlepool.

Kelly claims:

l NHS Direct telephone staff told her that Neve couldn’t be seen at One Life Hartlepool, in Park Road, as she was under 16.

l Staff at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, asked why she had gone there rather than One Life.

l The day after the accident, staff at One Life allegedly told the family she could have been taken to the University Hospital of Hartlepool for emergency treatment. Neve’s granddad David Lahney, 54, said: “It’s a complete mess. If the professionals don’t know where to send people, what chance have we got?”

David called into One Life on Friday, the day after the accident, to query the mix-up and says he was told that Kelly could have taken her daughter to the University Hospital of Hartlepool as it “still deals with accidents and emergencies”.

Today, with Stranton Primary School pupil Neve having escaped any serious injury and making a good recovery at home, the family has questioned whether anyone in Hartlepool actually knows what to do in the event of an emergency.

David, a groundworker who lives with wife, June, in Edgar Street, Hartlepool, said: “It’s very worrying, nobody appears to know what to do.

“The NHS helpline says one thing and the doctors at North Tees were bemused as to why Neve was taken through there when she could have been seen at One Life.

“Then I was told by staff at One Life she could actually have been seen at the hospital in Hartlepool. I have four grandkids who regularly stay with us. In the past if they have had an accident while we’ve been looking after them, the hospital in Hartlepool would have been the first place I’d have taken them to.

“Now, I don’t have a clue. The whole situation is a mess. It has been badly thought out.”

Social care officer Kelly, 33, of Telford Close, took Neve into the shower to cool the burns with help from her other daughter, Rayanne, 15. She then rang the NHS helpline following the accident at about 8.15pm on Thursday.

She said: “Neve was screaming with pain and Rayanne was trying to cool her down with the shower and wet towels while I was on the phone.

“I was told I couldn’t go to One Life as she was under 16. I didn’t think that was right, but you don’t question what the experts are telling you, do you? My main concern was getting her seen to as quickly as I could.

“When I got to North Tees, the doctors were brilliant and we were out in about 20 minutes with no lasting damage to Neve thankfully. But the doctors did appear to be confused as to why we had gone to them rather than One Life.” Ali Wilson, director of commissioning and system development for NHS Tees, said: “The information that children under 16 cannot be seen at One Life Hartlepool is incorrect.

“Both adults and children can be treated at One Life Hartlepool and we will be talking to NHS Direct about this. Accident and emergency is no longer provided from Hartlepool hospital.

“Adults and children with less serious accidents, injuries and illnesses can go to the urgent care centre at One Life Hartlepool and we encourage people to do so.

“However, if an illness or injury is serious do not stop to think about how to get the patient to hospital. Phone 999 straight away.”

An NHS Direct spokesperson said: “We apologise for any confusion that may have been caused. NHS Direct uses a directory of services that has information provided to us by local health organisations, and is frequently updated.

“As the information we have for this service is incorrect, we will make sure our records are updated immediately.”