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“Southport Children Are Being Let Down” reports Claire Kelly.

The appalling lack of childrens ‘A and E’ services in Southport is one issue which has angered parents many times over the last 19 years and yet is still an ongoing issue.

However, not only that, but Childrens A and E in Ormskirk, the only local option parents have been left with, still remains closed overnight 2 years on.

Can somebody explain why are we still in this dire situation?

Parents need answers and action. Parents want their voices to be heard. I believe it is time for this to be changed.

"I think it's crazy that we have to drive all the way to Ormskirk as it is when I live three roads away from Southport Hospital. For them to close overnight and not have a 24-hour service I think is ludicrous!” Said one mother.

Alder Hey is now the closest hospital to Southport which has Childrens’ emergency services overnight. This is a distance of 21 miles and a 40 minute car journey, that’s of course if you have a car and enough petrol! This is simply not good enough.

“It could be a vital time, whilst travelling to Alder Hey. Cutting out that time could be life or death for some kids” says another parent.

One thing I am struggling to understand is how the overnight closure is still justified.

I have researched the reason for the “temporary closure” and found the following, from April 2020, when the decision was made to close Childrens’ A and E from 10pm to 7 am:

“Trish Armstrong-Child, chief executive of Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said the challenges presented by COVID-19 (coronavirus) had forced the temporary closure on the Trust. She said: "I know the closure will concern people but the Trust cannot maintain safe and effective emergency medical cover overnight while the focus of our staff is on coronavirus”

Surely the focus of staff is no longer on coronavirus with hospital admissions cut drastically since vaccinations? This leads me to believe that there is now another excuse for the continued closure.

Parents are coming forward with horrendous stories of the impact this closure is still having, not only emotionally but also financially, being forced to pay the expensive fare home! Tricia Hodge had this to say:

“We had to go all the way to Blackpool a&e because my daughter had stuck a small piece of Lego up her nose and even with blowing her nose it wouldn’t come out and it started to bleed. I called 999 because I don’t drive and I’m a single parent. There were no ambulances either to take her to Blackpool so they sent a taxi to take us but I had to pay for the journey back which cost £50. The reason the operator gave was because Ormskirk was closed and Alderhey was too busy”

And another resident’s comments who is a grandad:

“My grandson, not yet three, has Asthma, a history of severe chest infections and Type 1 Diabetes. A couple of weeks ago he woke late at night crying with pain and having trouble breathing. My daughter and her partner raced him to Ormskirk, arriving on the stroke of midnight, to find the door already locked. They were told, via intercom, to go to Alderhey where they spent the next few days. Yes Alderhey is extremely busy but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the ultimate plan is to close Ormskirk A&E and move all children's services to Liverpool.”

One mum, Michelle, took her daughter,screaming in agony, to find Ormskirk A and E closed:

Michelle told me "All the way there I kept saying to my daughter 'it's okay, we're nearly there' and then we got there and I was just like 'what?' My daughter was screaming in pain and we had to make the 49 min trip to Alder Hey”

As a parent myself of children with multiple health problems including type one diabetes, which can be a life and death situation, I know the emotional trauma and anxiety that comes with having an unwell child. To add to that horrendous experience, the worst thing is to feel you have to take the child so far to get help, and it’s downright dangerous too. I am at a loss for words as to how this can be justified as an acceptable service to such a large town as Southport.

This leads me back to the issue of the general closure of Southport A&E, which happened in 2003. I am not alone when I say that this was and still is a shambles and a great atrocity, that a large town as Southport cannot serve our children better.

Also not a great way to serve tourists who come here with children! I don’t want to see 20 years of this mess. 19 is enough!

It’s time to make change for the children of Southport.

Reported by Claire Kelly of Friends of Southport