NHS cuts blamed as children’s care unit on move

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A ROW over a decision to move a critical care unit for children away from its operating theatre has intensified after a hospital manager suggested the switch was part of cost-cutting measures rather than for clinical reasons as NHS bosses had claimed.

Staff at the paediatric high dependency unit (HDU) at Hull Royal Infirmary were told on Monday that it would be moving from the second floor to the 12th floor tomorrow, nine floors above the operating theatres.

Parents claim the move will put the lives of children in urgent need of surgery at risk because of the time it would take to get them to an operating table.

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust described the move as temporary and said it would “help us manage services and the prevention and control of infections throughout the winter”.

However, in an email to a parents’ representative discussing the relocation, a manager wrote: “As you are no doubt aware the NHS is under pressure to deliver considerable efficiency savings and we have to review all clinical services.”

The trust needs to save £24m this year.

The unit, which cares for up to eight children, is being merged with a general children’s ward and is returning to the space it occupied 10 years ago, which has further alarmed staff and parents.

At the time it was described as “cramped” and was criticised by staff for having inadequate space to maintain patients’ dignity and privacy.

Alan Brattan, chairman of the unit’s family involvement group, which raises funds, monitors performance and has been hailed as an example of best practice, said he knew from personal experience the limitations of the previous location after his daughter Alice was treated there.

He said: “My child went through critical care at the high dependency unit in 2000 when she had meningitis. They saved her life in ICU (intensive care) but she went straight on the baby ward and it was a nightmare.

“You had parents being nosey and asking inappropriate questions and staff also who are not trained to deal with it as well as HDU nurses.”

He added: “They will be diluting nurses’ skills and are unwilling to pay overtime for nurses during winter. Ultimately, it’s about saving money.”

The family involvement group is set to discuss the issue at a meeting today.