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Parents feared death of child on CUH drive

November 2nd, 2021 11:45 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Mike Stephenson spoke with Deputy Michael Collins who has raised the issue in the Dáil.

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A WEST Cork couple watched their two-year-old daughter turn blue on the roadside after they were advised to make a dash for the emergency department in Cork city.

The child’s grandfather, Mike Stephenson, spoke to The Southern Star about his family’s anger and emotional distress and to highlight what he feels is the lack of availability of ambulances in some emergency situations.

The incident began at lunchtime on Friday, October 15th when the girl’s playschool contacted her parents as she was having a seizure.

They rushed to her aid, and contacted their GP, who attempted to get an ambulance.

The couple were told it would be quicker to drive to Cork because the nearest ambulance was in Clonakilty.

The couple also phoned Mike to go to their home in Bantry and collect items – such as the mother’s purse and a change of clothes for the girl – and to bring them to Cork.

On the way, Mike said he passed Bantry General Hospital and saw some ambulances in the car park.

He said he has been asking questions about this since the incident but still hasn’t received a satisfactory answer.

A spokesperson for the National Ambulance Service said, ‘The only time ambulances would be there is if they were bringing a patient to the hospital.’

Meanwhile, nearing Coppeen, the couple pulled into the side of the road because their daughter appeared to have stopped breathing.

Mike said his daughter phoned him and told him she had turned blue. ‘She thought she was dead,’ he said.

The couple phoned their GP again and an ambulance was redirected to them in Coppeen at 2pm.

Almost two weeks after the incident, Mike said all they know is that the girl had a seizure.

‘We still don’t know if it was epilepsy because we are still waiting for an appointment for outpatients to do the relevant tests.’

In going public with their story, he said he wanted to highlight the fact that ‘a distraught couple were sent in a car that distance with no medical facilities of resuscitation.

‘It’s crazy, absolutely ludicrous,’ he added. He said the family were told that Bantry General Hospital – despite having paediatricians on staff – does not admit children under the age of five.

‘I don’t know why,’ he said. ‘I’ve asked what the policy is but I haven’t been told.’

He said he was also told that the ambulance service operates nationally instead of regionally. ‘They are not going where they are needed.’

Mike said his family were fortunate but the next parent put in that situation might not be so lucky.

‘I believe my grandchild should have gone to Bantry hospital that day to make sure she was stable and able to travel to Cork,’ he said.

‘My family is precious to me,’ said Mike, ‘so I am going to do everything I can to highlight the situation. I have spoken with Cllr Danny Collins and Deputy Michael Collins and he raised the matter in the Dáil.’

Bantry General Hospital says it cannot comment on individual cases.

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