A PANIC-STRICKEN family say they were turned away from Hartlepool’s One Life medical centre after their baby stopped breathing.
Worried parents Annika Gray and Gareth Morgan took their nine-month-old son Harry to the urgent care centre after he suddenly went purple and “stiff as a board” at home.
Dad Gareth, 28, managed to revive him but they took him to the centre in Park Road at 9.20pm to be checked over by a doctor.
But they were stunned when a receptionist told them they needed to phone to make an appointment before they could see one.
Instead they took Harry 12 miles down the A19 to the A&E at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, where they were seen quickly.
Mum Annika, 26, said: “I was fuming. I don’t know how they can turn a baby away.”
Little Harry was asleep in his pushchair on Friday night when Annika and Gareth noticed something was wrong.
Annika, a carer, said: “We looked at him and he was purple. He wasn’t breathing.
“My partner did first aid and managed to bring him round.
“We took him straight down to One Life Hartlepool to get checked out but they said we needed to go home to make an appointment or use the phone there.
“It’s disgusting that they call it an urgent care centre and you can’t even get seen.”
Gareth, who was recently made redundant, added: “He was stiff as a board. I blew into his mouth and tapped him on his back which worked.
“All we wanted was a doctor to look him over and make sure he was OK and there was nothing else, just for our peace of mind.
“As far as I’m concerned our A&E has closed so that’s our A&E and if they can’t see to you then you go to North Tees.”
The couple, of Milbank Road, Hartlepool, said Harry was not breathing for between 15 to 20 seconds.
At hospital in Stockton it was discovered that Harry had a build up of phlegm from a cold which blocked his airways.
Annika’s dad, Albert Gray, 57, who drove them to One Life Hartlepool, said: “You are supposed to be able to walk in and get some sort of attention but you can’t.”
The University Hospital of Hartlepool’s A&E department closed at the beginning of August.
One Life Hartlepool includes a 24-hour minor injuries centre and a GP walk-in centre open between 8am and 8pm.
After 8pm people have to phone an out of hours number to speak to a doctor who will offer advice based on symptoms or decide if they need to be seen face to face.
A spokesman for NHS Hartlepool, which commissions the out of hours GP service at the centre, would only say: “NHS Hartlepool remains committed to delivering high quality local services in Hartlepool and we will continue to work closely with all healthcare providers and partners to achieve this aim.”
The primary care trust says people should call 999 for anyone seriously ill or hurt and to go to One Life for minor illnesses and injuries.