A BABY faces weeks in an incubator 30 miles from his Huddersfield home because no special care beds were available for him.
Tiny Joseph Wake is in the neo-natal unit at Sheffield’s Jessops Hospital after his mum was rushed there by ambulance because there was no room at either Huddersfield Royal Infirmary or the Calderdale Royal Hospital in Halifax.
Mum Adele Wake had to make the arduous journey when she went into labour 11 weeks early.
Mrs Wake, of Manchester Road, Milnsbridge, had been scheduled to give birth at the Calderdale Royal.
But when she arrived there in labour at 1.20am on Saturday, September 22, she was told there would be no neo-natal intensive care bed for her son.
So at 10am she was taken to Jessops Hospital in an ambulance with its blue lights flashing. The trip took an hour and 10 minutes because of traffic.
Joseph was finally born last Monday, weighing just 3lb 2oz.
Mrs Wake and husband Roy are worried about the lack of suitable beds at Halifax and fear the situation will get worse once Huddersfield Royal Infirmary’s maternity services are scaled down.
From next year all consultant-led maternity care will move from Huddersfield to the Calderdale Royal. That could mean another 2,000 births a year at the Halifax hospital.
Only a midwife-led unit will remain at Huddersfield. It will not be able to cater for complicated births or high-risk patients such as Mrs Wake.
There are currently three intensive care cots at both the Calderdale Royal and the Royal Infirmary.
When maternity services are centralised all six cots will be in Halifax, in a new, purpose- built unit. The 20 general special care baby cots which now exist across the two sites will also be in Halifax.
The Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust, which runs both hospitals, says that centralising the service means patients will have more access to the skills and expertise of specialist doctors and nurses 24 hours a day.
But Mr Wake said: “It was an ordeal for my wife and very stressful for me. If Joseph had arrived while they were in the ambulance he might not be here now.
“The situation has disgusted us and our whole family. They can’t believe we had to be transferred while Adele was in labour. There’s a shortage of beds and they are not putting many more in ready for the services to move from Huddersfield. So the situation could get even worse.”
Joseph is in Jessops Hospital’s neo-natal unit and is doing well. He has been taken off most of his support machines, but his mum and dad will not be able to bring him home for another 10 weeks.
They would like him transferred to Halifax to make visiting easier over the next two months. But they are unsure when he will be moved because of the lack of beds at the Calderdale Royal.
Mr Wake said: “We want to get him home, but we have to wait for a space at Halifax. It makes it difficult really and it’s a stressful time.”
The trust’s director of nursing, Helen Thomson, said Mrs Wake’s transfer was due to an unusually high demand for cots on the day.
She said: “That day there was an unusually high demand for our intensive care cots and they were all occupied. A baby born 10 weeks early should always be delivered in a centre with an intensive care cot.
“Intensive care cots are organised by a local neo-natal network specifically to cope with such a situation. The network works closely together to make sure babies are delivered in the most appropriate place if they are not in their home unit.
“We will be staying in close touch with the doctors in Sheffield and hope the baby can come back to us in the very near future.”