Hospital A&E care for children

Sir – As the Trust s senior clinicians responsible for providing local communities with safe, sustainable high quality services for children, we take those responsibilities very seriously. In last week s paper, Jane Dutton raised concerns through the

Sir - As the Trust's senior clinicians responsible for providing local communities with safe, sustainable high quality services for children, we take those responsibilities very seriously.

In last week's paper, Jane Dutton raised concerns through the letters page about the recent treatment of her daughter in the QE2's paediatric assessment unit (PAU).

We would welcome a discussion with Ms Dutton of her daughter's care and treatment, and we apologise to her for the unhappiness she has expressed with our service.

We would like to reassure your readers, however, that any child who attends the QE2 is assessed appropriately, and where necessary redirected to suitable services - local or further afield - should specialist expertise be required.


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As highlighted in Ms Dutton's letter and as reported thoroughly by the WHT in July, we now do not provide emergency services for children at the QE2 between 9pm and 7.30am. This change, which was introduced on August 1, 2008, follows the result of the Better care for sick children public consultation and the opening of a new 24/7 children's A&E unit at the Lister hospital in Stevenage, where the Trust's children's inpatient service has been based for some time.

We believe that the new emergency care arrangements for children, which see the Lister providing a night-time service to the whole of east and north Hertfordshire, is working well. We encourage families, no matter where they live, to attend the Lister between 9pm and 7.30am daily should they have a sick or injured child. There they will find that their children will be cared for by paediatricians and specialist children's nurses in a child-centred environment.

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It is important to remember that the reasons behind the changes were entirely clinical and not financially driven. Had they not been made, the service at the QE2 would have been subjected to unpredictable, ad hoc closures, which is not the basis on which to run a good clinical service.

Dr Andy Raffles, consultant paediatrician and clinical director for children's services; Kath Evans, lead nurse/matron for children's services, East and North Herts NHS Trust.

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