Equipment plea for little Harry

Laura McLean is upset that the Trust won't buy a life-saving piece of kit for her one-year-old son, Harry whose life was in danger when the current NHS equipment failed. She has forked out for the cost of a new machine but wants the cash back from the trust.
Laura McLean is upset that the Trust won't buy a life-saving piece of kit for her one-year-old son, Harry whose life was in danger when the current NHS equipment failed. She has forked out for the cost of a new machine but wants the cash back from the trust.

A MUM whose baby son has a life-threatening condition claims hospital chiefs have refused to pay for new equipment to help him breathe.

Laura Mclean, 29, asked bosses at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust to pay £395 for a new suction unit so her one-year-old son Harry Blair, who has had a tracheostomy, can breathe easier.

But the distressed mum says trust chiefs refused and she has now taken out a loan to pay for the new equipment because the battery on the old unit failed and put the tot’s life in danger.

Miss Mclean, of Dandy Mill Avenue, Pontefract, said: “The final straw was on the way home from Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield one day when the battery on the machine just died.

“It had been on charge all day and it had been used once. We were in a life-threatening situation, what could we do? Harry had a virus and was coughing and vomiting. Luckily we got home in time to use the spare machine, but I said ‘that’s it’.”

Miss Mclean said her son was born prematurely at 26 weeks and had to be put on a ventilator to help him breathe.

He continued to have breathing problems and surgeons removed cysts that were growing on his throat but he had to be fitted with a tracheostomy tube when he was six months old to help him breathe.

Miss Mclean says she has to use a machine to suction the tube around 60 times in the day and 15 at night so Harry doesn’t choke.

But she has since bought the new machine – which has five hours’ battery life instead of one – and wants the trust to refund the money because she claims neighbouring trusts offer the new equipment as standard.

She said: “Without this machine Harry would die. I took out the bank loan because I was so desperate for something that worked – I couldn’t wait any longer because of the circumstances.

“I’m not in a position where I can go out to work because Harry’s so ill. The trust is obviously not willing to pay for it, but they should.

“I know parents in Leeds whose children have had tracheostomies and they have these new machines and get respite services and home care.

“I don’t have anyone to help me apart from my partner when he’s not working, it’s unfair the machines are offered in other areas. I don’t think £400 for a life-saving piece of kit is asking too much.”

David Curtis, clinical chairman for community services at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, said: “I am sorry for the issues that Miss Mclean has experienced.

“We are concerned to hear that Miss Mclean feels the equipment was faulty as all our equipment is fully tested prior to it being allocated, however we will ensure that this individual piece of equipment is thoroughly tested.

“We are in contact with Miss Mclean and will continue to work with her directly to resolve any issues.”