Toddler has a year-long wait for heart scan

Jill Ramsay with Seth
Jill Ramsay with Seth

A DISTRAUGHT mother has spoken of her anguish after learning that her baby son will have to wait a whole year for a heart scan.

Jill Ramsay, 28, of Thanet Way, took two-year-old Seth to the doctor in May because he had a throat infection.

His GP examined him and became concerned after hearing a noise like the sound of blood gushing through his heart.

A follow-up appointment 10 days later revealed the same result so Seth was referred to specialists at the Conquest Hospital after being diagnosed with a pansystolic murmur, or abnormal heartbeat.

Last week Mrs Ramsay received a letter from the Conquest, saying Seth will have to wait until June 10 next year for an echocardiogram test.

She said: “I was really angry and crying. It’s ridiculous. I thought the date was wrong at first but the hospital told me it was the right date.

“It’s not good enough. Heart scans can reveal potentially serious heart conditions. We are talking about my two-year-old son.

“I was told that Seth’s heart valve may be too thin or not closing properly. But we will have to wait a year to find out.”

Mrs Ramsay, who is assistant manager at Clifton Court care home in Ore, said she was told only two echocardiograms were done each month because of staff shortages.

She added: “It’s ridiculous as there must be lots of children on the waiting list needing scans. I don’t see why any child should have to wait so long.”

Simon Purkiss, hospital spokesman, said: “The echocardiogram service for children was originally provided at specialist cardiac centres in London. In common with many other hospitals, to reduce the need for children and parents to travel, a local service was developed at the Conquest Hospital.

“This service is reliant on using paediatric echocardiogram technicians and we have been unsuccessful in recruiting or getting agency cover for this specialist post mainly due to a national shortage of such people.

“The children’s echocardiogram service exceeds its current capacity of two echocardiogram clinics a month which has resulted in waiting times now being far longer than we would like. We are working to try and rectify this situation but have been hampered by the shortage of trained technicians.

“Local parents should be reassured that urgent scans will be performed promptly and that if routine non-urgent scans cannot be performed locally or there is a delay in getting these done, children can be referred to a specialist cardiac centre, however there are also long waiting lists for routine non-urgent scans in London.”