Closing Grantham’s A&E department would kill people.
That is the firm belief of a mother who would have lost her daughter if it were not for the emergency doctors at Grantham Hospital.
Harriet Fuller was vomiting pints of blood, her body shutting down so fast that paramedics knew she would not make it to Lincoln County Hospital. So they swung an ambulance around and made it to Grantham just in time.
Now Harriet, 18, is recovering well, she and her mother have spoken out about their harrowing experience as a plea to keep the town’s A&E open as health chiefs and local authorities consider a single, centralised A&E for the entire county.
It was on November 22 that Harriet fell ill. She was riding a friend’s horse in Little Ponton when she began to feel dizzy.
Her mum, Tracey, who was watching her ride at the time, said: “She said she wasn’t feeling very well, looked at me and fainted while on the horse. I manhandled her down on to the floor and she was unconcscious. I went to get the car but a friend shouted be back because Harriet was vomiting a lot of blood. She was pouring blood.”
It took 50 minutes following a 999 call for an ambulance to arrive, having arrived at the scene from Boston. An emergency response team of volunteers had arrived in the meantime but were able to do very little to stablise Harriet’s deteriorating condition.
Paramedics stretchered her into the ambulance, saying they would go to Lincoln as Grantham could not handle the severity of her condition. But just three minutes into the journey they were forced to do a U-turn to Grantham Hospital because Harriet had no pulse and would not have stayed alive long enough to make it to Lincoln.
By the time they reached A&E, Harriet had lost six pints of blood and it took doctors three hours to stabilise her before moving her to Lincoln, where she remained for two weeks. She then spent a week at the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham. Investigations revealed she was born with a blood vessel located too close to the lining of her small bowel, which had ruptured.
Mrs Fuller said: “I was told more than once she was lucky to be alive. The scary fact is, if we lose our A&E we may also lose lives and no amount of cost-cutting is worth it.
“Even an ambulance going fast to Lincoln is going to take 20 to 30 minutes, but Harriet didn’t have 20 minutes.
“It would be crazy to have a centralised A&E department. It’s bad enough that we had to wait for an ambulance to come from Boston. Someone else in A&E said their ambulance came from Scunthorpe.”
Over the course of the three weeks, Harriet lost 20 pints of blood and was kept alive thanks to blood donors. Since her terrible experience, friends and family have donated blood and they hope to encourage others to do the same.
Harriet said: “I had never even thought about giving blood before. It’s not until something happens that you realise that without people donating blood I wouldn’t be here today.
“The people who do it are amazing, they don’t know the person they’re saving. I’ve had 20 people save my life.”
The Fuller family wishes to thank doctors and nurses at Grantham Hospital and the team at St John’s Medical Centre in London Road.
** Have you had a similar experience? Do you believe the closure of Grantham A&E would see patients die? E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org