Mum's fury over proposed nurse cuts

When Ipswich Hospital announced plans to cut specialist nurses who care for children with cancer The Evening Star was inundated with letters of protest.

When Ipswich Hospital announced plans to cut specialist nurses who care for children with cancer The Evening Star was inundated with letters of protest.

Today Sarah Beard, whose five-year-old daughter Chelsie lost her battle with leukaemia at the end of last month, added her voice to the dissenters and told of her fury over the proposed cuts.

Here, in her own powerful words, Ms Beard, of north-west Ipswich, explains what the nurses meant to Chelsie and her, and why she will fight to save them:

Ms Beard said: “I read your article in disgust. On the day it was printed I was burying my five-year-old daughter who has been battling with leukaemia for almost two years.

“She was cared for at home by these two wonderful specialist nurses up until she peacefully passed away on September 26.

“Both these nurses already do so much more than they are required to do on paper and I think it is an outrage that their services might be axed.

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“When I found out that Chelsie had not got long to live they asked me where I would like my daughter to die.

“I was given a choice of hospital, hospice or home.

“Hospital was immediately out of the question as she'd been in hospital continuously for the majority of the last year. The hospice sounded appealing and comforting but they could only offer part time care, so no good.

“Home felt like the natural and appealing choice. At home she would have all her home comforts that she'd missed out on in the past year or so, have her loving family around her and gain a good quality of life, so that's what I chose.

“This meant that she was to receive home care from both of these nurses. They came out to administer drugs and transfusions which are normally only given in a hospital environment, which immediately made me a little more comfortable with the situation.

“They provided a 24-hour on-call service and when I called they were with me always within 15 minutes, which in some cases is quicker than an ambulance.

“In the six to eight weeks before she died I had one or both of these specialist oncology nurses in my home every day administering her drugs.

“If it wasn't for these nurses, I believe my daughter would not have had a very good quality of life. If the service was not provided my daughters last few weeks would have been spent in a hospital bed. Not a very comforting thought is it?

“These are children's services they are thinking about axing, how on earth did it come to this? How can Ipswich Hospital justify building a new state of the art department with posh new theatres when these two women have had to reapply for their jobs?

“These two women provide a service that is invaluable. I personally know both of them very well, they went out of their way to provide excellent care for my daughter and my family at a very very difficult time. Axing their positions will put a huge strain on families who will be in the position I was in. It would mean a child's last days or weeks will be spent in hospital, and who wants that?

“A child needs familiarity, home comforts and their family around them 24/7.

“I know most of the child oncology families in Ipswich and the surrounding areas, believe me these nurses will not lose their jobs without one hell of a fight from me and other families they have provided care for.”

AXING the specialist nursing posts is part of Ipswich Hospital's financial recovery programme which is designed to help them recover more than £24m of debt.

The paediatric cancer nurses are just one of the specialities that are likely to be affected. Other areas include diabetes and epilepsy.

As yet, none of the plans are final and are still being worked through by the hospital.

Jan Rowsell, hospital spokeswoman, said: “We clearly understand and appreciate everyone's viewpoints on this.

“We are currently working very closely with the Primary Care Trust and staff within the hospital to find a solution to this.”

Other measures being implemented include the closure of up to four operating theatres and 71 beds. More than 350 posts will also go.