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Dehydrated baby nearly died after twice being turned away from hospital by receptionists because of lack of doctorsMichaela was told by a matron that the blunder happened because the hospital was 'understaffed' and morale was low
13:00 GMT, 22 May 2012
The mother of a baby boy who was turned away twice by hospital receptionists today said he nearly died because of a lack of doctors.
Jaiden Daley was rushed to Grantham and District Hospital by his mother Michaela Sleney, 22, when he became lethargic and unable to keep liquids down.
But she was amazed when the receptionist in the accident and emergency department claimed her son was not ill enough to be seen by a doctor and sent them home.
Relief: Jaiden was finally seen after Michaela and her partner Luke insisted he was seen at their local hospital
The mother-of-two brought Jaiden, now nearly two, back to the department a few days later when his conditioned worsened – but again a different receptionist tried to convince her to go.
She stood her ground and eventually her son was seen by doctors – who found he was suffering from severe dehydration and was just hours from death.
He was rushed to a specialist baby unit and clung to life for three days before eventually showing signs of improvement.
Michaela then recorded a matron blaming the blunders on the fact the hospital was 'understaffed' and morale was low.
She said: 'The bottom line is this is a result of the NHS cuts.
'Staff have to work longer hours and do everything – because there is nobody else to cover them if they don’t.
'There are not enough doctors working so the receptionists are trying to keep the waiting list down by only checking in emergency cases.'
She added: 'It makes my blood boil that the government will throw tax payers’ money at things like the Olympics but they can’t get elementary things right on the NHS and have ended up in a situation where a receptionist is attempting to diagnose patients.'
Jaiden, pictured after he was finally diagnosed with severe dehydration at Grantham hospital's busy A & E department
Michaela, who lives with Jaiden and partner Luke Daley, 26, and Gabriel, seven months, in Grantham, Lincolnshire, took her sick son to casualty in April 2011.
She noticed that Jaiden was lethargic and not keeping any liquids down – but the receptionist at Grantham’s busy A and E department quickly sent her home.
The mother was sent home with a booklet and told if she was really concerned she should take him to an out-of- hours GP instead.
Michaela said: 'I was pregnant at the time with Gabriel and extremely emotional.
'A male receptionist said he was not ill enough to be seen in A and E so I presumed if the receptionist was sending me home he must have some medical experience.
'When people say something authoritative and they work in a hospital, you presume they know what they are talking about.
'The truth is that same receptionist was checking in drunks and patients with minor injuries and they were attended to by doctors – whilst my little boy who was actually in the last stages of dehydration and dying was sent home.
'I remember thinking that wasn’t right but I didn’t know what to do.'
Jaiden was taken to Boston Hospital, Lincolnshire, an hour away, and put on a drip in their specialist baby unit
Michaela then took Jaiden to the out-of-hours GP surgery that same night after his condition worsened.
But the doctor did not pick up on how sick the poorly her son was either and told her to take him home.
However, less than 12 hours later Jaiden’s eyes had sunk in, he was barely moving, being violently sick and had chronic diarrhoea.
Terrified Michaela called NHS Direct – who advised her to take him to A and E at Grantham Hospital. But again a different receptionist tried to send her home.
Michaela said: 'I couldn’t believe it when another receptionist tried to fob me off.
'Here I was with a clearly sick baby in my arms and another receptionist tried to tell me again that I was overreacting and that I should just take him home.
'She was huffing and puffing and trying to make me feel stupid. But this time Luke was at my side, and together we stood our ground and demanded to see a doctor.
'She reluctantly booked Jaiden in and shortly afterwards a doctor examined him.'
The doctor immediately flagged Jaiden up as a medical emergency because of his limpness, high temperature and his inability to hold down liquids.
He was diagnosed as being in the last stages of dehydration and medics warned his body was starting to shut down.
Angry: Michaela said she could have lost her son if she hadn't pushed to see a doctor
They took him to Boston Hospital, Lincolnshire, an hour away, and put on a drip in their specialist baby unit.
Michaela said: 'I couldn’t stop crying – I thought he was going to die. Luke tried to console me but I was a mess.
'We didn’t know if he was going to pull through. He was fighting for his life.
It was an agonising three days before he began to show signs of improvement and that whole time I wasn’t sure if I’d lose him.
'I just kept thinking that the whole situation could have been avoided if Grantham A and E had not sent him home in the first place.
'And by now I felt furious that the person who had sent us home was just a receptionist.'
His furious parents demanded an apology from the hospital and finally secured a meeting with the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, who run the facility, months later.
During the meeting Michaela recorded a matron at Grantham Hospital blaming the Easter break for the blunders, stating they were “understaffed”.
Mandy Charles, matron at the hospital, told Michaela: 'We have been understaffed.
'That’s not your fault. We have had to work some pretty awful shift patterns so morale has been really low and that makes people a bit bad tempered.
But that is absolutely no excuse for what has happened to you.'
In the recording of the meeting, the out-of-hours service doctor, Dr Codi Ramesh, also apologised.
He said: 'I should have taken longer to examine him them had him immediately admitted to hospital. I’ve learnt from this incident and I will make sure it won’t happen again.'
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Lincolnshire Community Health Services apologised to Michaela.
A spokesman said: 'Patients are routinely asked if they would normally seek GP advice for the condition they are presenting with and if so are directed to the out of hours GP next to A and E for the initial consultation.
'Work has recently been completed to integrate the GP into the A and E department which means patients are seen by the right clinician more quickly.
'In the last year we have made significant changes to the Grantham A and E department including a review of paediatric pathways, an increase in paediatric training for staff and we have also introduced a new Paediatric Liaison Nurse.'