‘There was no doctor in Hartlepool to see my seriously ill son’

Harry Franks with his Nana Trish Bucks.
Harry Franks with his Nana Trish Bucks.

THE family of a youngster have branded out of hours GP care in Hartlepool “scandalous” over claims they waited hours to speak to a doctor on the phone – and then had to travel 13 miles to see one.

Three-year-old Harry Francis’s mum became worried when her little boy’s temperature shot up in the early hours of the morning and he started hallucinating.

Jessica Williams phoned 999 and the NHS helpline 111 for advice and was told a doctor would ring her back.

But she claims she did not receive a call back from a doctor until more than five hours later.

She says she was then given the option of waiting another two-and-a-half hours to see a doctor in Hartlepool or travel to an out of hours health centre in Stockton.

An investigation has now been launched by local out of hours GP providers Northern Doctors.

The family has launched a complaint over the ordeal and have also written to Hartlepool MP Iain Wright.

Full-time mum Jessica, 22, of Dyke House Hartlepool, said: “I think it’s scandalous.

“I didn’t know what was happening, there could have been something really wrong with him.”

Jessica rang 999 just after 2am on Sunday because Harry was burning up and imagining things that were not there.

She claims was told she needed to speak to a doctor and would receive a call back within two hours.

But when no call came by 4.20am she rang the NHS 111 line after Harry had been sick.

She said she finally received a call at 7.40am and was advised Harry should be seen in person by a doctor.

But Jessica claims she was told there would be no-one on duty in Hartlepool until 10am.

Instead she contacted her mum Trish Buck who drove them to a health centre in Stockton.

After being seen she says Harry was referred immediately to the University Hospital of North Tees where he was treated for tonsillitis before being allowed home later the same day.

Trish, 53, said: “Why did it take so long for them to be seen?

“Why wasn’t there a doctor available until 10am? I think it’s diabolical.”

Trish filled in a complaint form at the Stockton health centre and has also written to town MP Iain Wright.

She said at one stage during the night Harry’s temperature hit 42 degrees Celsius, compared to the normal 36.5C.

It fluctuated between 38.2C and 39.1C when he was in hospital.

Jessica added: “He was on fire. I always thought it was an emergency if a young child’s temperature got so high.

“If our hospital was available I wouldn’t have bothered phoning 999, I would have taken him to A&E straightaway.”

A spokesperson from Northern Doctors Urgent Care (NDUC) said: “Northern Doctors Urgent Care can confirm that they were involved in the management of this patient on the February 8.

“NDUC cannot comment on the details of the case for patient confidentiality reasons, but would like to assure the family that an investigation into the case has already been initiated.”

The North East Ambulance Service which handles 999 and NHS 111 calls confirmed they received a call from Jessica just after 2am and again at around 4.30am.