THE PARENTS of a Linthwaite boy facing major heart surgery have hit out against hospital plans to move family accommodation.
Little Joel Bearder was born with a valve defect meaning he will need open heart surgery in years to come.
Now his parents Gaynor and Tony have learned Leeds General Infirmary plans to shift the overnight rooms close to the children’s cardiac unit where 19-month-old Joel will undergo his operation.
Gaynor, 35, of Banks Road, said: “It is appalling. They need to think what they are doing and have some consideration for parents.
“The new rooms could be a 15-minute walk away. When you have a child so sick you need to be nearby.
“What if, God forbid, something happens and you couldn’t get back in time? It is just horrifying.
“I certainly won’t be leaving Joel when he has to go in for his surgery. It’s stressful enough, without all this.”
The move is part of £25m plan to merge children’s services with those at St James’s Hospital, Leeds, so poorly children are not transferred between the two sites.
All care will be centralised at LGI by 2011 and a total of 22 parent rooms will be provided in another hospital wing to replace the 15 currently available on the floor below the children’s cardiac unit.
But the move will mean parents face a walk across the sprawling hospital site to reach the children’s unit.
Gaynor – who spent seven weeks at Joel’s LGI bedside when he was born – said it was unacceptable.
“Those numbers are not enough for the whole children’s service,” she said.
“And it is awful for mums who have just given birth or are trying to breastfeed their poorly babies and have to trek across the site at 3am for feeds.
“They might be able to sleep next to their children on camp beds but that’s no good when it is every night for weeks on end.
“They’ll end up getting run down and how are they going to care for a sick child then?”
The couple – who have raised more than £3,500 for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at LGI – now plan to lobby MPs and even Gordon Brown.
A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospital said: “Clearly, relocating services into an existing hospital site and minimising disruption is challenging.
“Some wards and departments will be moving from their current location to make room and new children’s wards are being created on D-floor of the Jubilee Building, which is the most modern wing on the LGI site.
“This space is close to A&E, intensive care and other children’s services. When converted it will offer a very good standard of accommodation for sick children from all across Yorkshire and beyond.”
He confirmed office space and parental rooms on D-floor would be axed as part of the move.
The parental rooms were expected to be temporarily housed in a former nurses’ home before being relocated to a house next to the Clarendon Wing.
He also confirmed parents had been consulted in the planning. He said: “We understand the importance of parents being as close as possible to their child.
“It is already and will continue to be possible for parents to sleep on the ward near to a very sick child if they wish to do.
“In response to parental wishes, we will be improving facilities to give better access to services including showers and tea-making.”