The cash-strapped trust that runs Worksop’s Bassetlaw Hospital is spending £14,000 a month transferring youngsters to other hospitals after cutbacks on its children ward.
It has been revealed that Bassetlaw and Doncaster Teaching Hospitals Trust is commissioning private ambulances to ferry sick children in need of overnight care to Doncaster and Sheffield at the cost of around £3,500 a week.
It comes after cuts to the children’s ward as a result of “staffing shortages” resulted in closure to admissions after 7pm, sparking outrage and concern amongst Bassetlaw parents.
Idris Griffiths, chief officer at NHS Bassetlaw Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “In partnership with the trust, we commission a specialist, paediatric transport service from a private provider based in Doncaster, Premier Care Direct, at a weekly cost of approximately £3,500.
“The ambulances are operated by appropriately trained ambulance staff. The service ensures we have a dedicated service at peak times to transfer any child that needs admitting to hospital overnight.”
Trust chiefs said the ward “may re-open” if current staff vacancies can be filled.
David Purdue, chief operating officer at the trust, said: “The trust has multiple nursing vacancies and despite numerous recruitment drives, these have been unsuccessful.
“This position is not unique to Bassetlaw, and we have made these changes to make the best use of the staffing we have available in order to continue to provide a safe paediatric service.”
John Mann MP said: “This situation is farcical. I have demanded that we are given the ambulances, crews and doctors that we need.
“Instead of wasting thousands of pounds a week, the hospital should invest in keeping the children’s ward open overnight.”