St Albans boy’s freezing wait after sledging crash

Thomas Hope of St Albans following his sledging accident

Thomas Hope of St Albans following his sledging accident - Credit: Photo supplied

A ST Albans mum is “outraged” after her four-year-old son had to wait 30 minutes in the snow for an ambulance – which never appeared – while bleeding from his head after a nasty sledging accident at the weekend.

And then after a further three-hour wait at Watford Hospital’s accident and emergency department, the child was told he would need to go to another hospital to have his wound stitched.

Hannah Hope, of Britton Ave, explained that her son Thomas, a reception pupil at Aboyne Lodge, was taken by her husband, David, to Brick Park on New England Street on Sunday.

She said: “Like lots of young boys he was out sledging but his sledge hit some slush and he veered off, going under a nearby bench.”

Other park users rushed to his aid and seeing the blood from his head, called an ambulance.


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A paramedic arrived in her rapid response car within five minutes and bandaged his head.

But after waiting for 30 minutes for an ambulance to transport the child, she suggested that it would be faster for David to drive Thomas to hospital himself.

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Hannah said: “The outrage is that the ambulance service obviously has no resources. I do not in any way blame the service or the medical staff.”

She praised the paramedic for being “very proficient and compassionate”.

But Hannah said while she had read reports of ambulance service cuts, she never dreamt it would affect “my small four-year-old son lying bleeding from his head in the snow. How can there be cuts to this service? Who needs to die before it is dealt with?”

The problem was compounded when, after several hours wait at Watford, a consultant warned that if Thomas’s head needed stitching it would have to be done under general anaesthetic and as that could not be done at Watford, the boy would have to be driven to the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.

Hannah said: “They decided to glue it and hope it would be OK.”

She said she did not understand why, when Watford was St Albans’ closest major hospital, her son would have to go elsewhere for stitching.

A spokeswoman for the women’s and children’s service at West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust apologised for Thomas’s experience.

While the spokeswoman would not comment specifically on Thomas’s visit because of patient confidentiality, she confirmed that it was “best practice to treat lacerations with closure strips or skin glue”. But suturing could be performed at the children’s department at Watford.

She added that sometimes, if there were any major clinical concerns, patients might have to be transferred to the specialist plastic surgery department at the Royal Free.

A spokeswoman for East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) said Thomas’s symptoms had not been categorised as life-threatening, “so was correctly prioritised against more serious incidents such as cardiac arrests and strokes.

“As people appreciate we were particularly busy in the snow and dealt with a number of sledging and other snow-related accidents.”

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