A FIVE-YEAR-OLD had to be driven 50 miles to be treated for a broken arm after doctors failed to find him a place at seven hospitals.

Joshua Halliday went to Lister Hospital in Stevenage because Wycombe Hospital no longer carries out serious trauma surgery.

Mum Sharon, 44, a children's community nurse who has worked at Wycombe Hospital, said: "I was ashamed to say that I worked for the NHS.

"How can a very distressed five-year-old child with a painful broken arm be expected to be put in a car and driven for an hour and a quarter?"

A hospital spokesman said yesterday Joshua's ordeal was a "rare occurrence" - and insisted the 2005 A&E changes were best for patients.

Dominic Grieve, MP for Beaconsfield, vowed to write to health secretary Alan Johnson about the "extremely worrying" case.

The news comes as more services are to be axed from the hospital on Monday in the week the NHS celebrates its 60 anniversary. Women who need an overnight stay for gynaecological conditions will have to go to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury, once the new cuts bite.

Sharon and dad Trevor, of Blind Lane, Flackwell Heath, took their son to the hospital after he fell in a car park in Bray last Thursday at 8.45pm.

Sharon said: "I know Wycombe - I worked there from 2000 to 2004 as a health visitor. I've taken many children there since, and I gave birth to all four of my kids there."

An x-ray revealed Joshua had broken his radius and ulna, the two bones in the forearm, which was put in a cast.

He was given paracetamol and his parents were told to wait for a bed at Stoke Mandeville.

But by midnight, after doctors tried to find beds in seven hospitals, the family was given directions and sent to Stevenage.

Sharon said: "They asked: Do you have a car?' We said yes' and they gave us directions. It was a nightmare. Every step of the way it just got worse.

"Luckily, Joshua fell asleep by 11pm so I just cuddled him in the waiting room."

When they arrived at 1.20am, they waited a further 15 minutes for Joshua to be given a bed. Yet he was woken by a drunken argument in the waiting room - and there were no beds available for his parents, who stayed in chairs.

Eventually, at 10.30am on Friday, Joshua had his operation to move the bones back into place, and he was discharged at 4.30pm.

Sharon said: "The staff were absolutely fantastic. Everyone we came into contact with was brilliant - and they were brilliant with Joshua."

She has written to her MP, Dominic Grieve, about her experience. "I just think someone needs to do something about the system. Wycombe used to be a fantastic hospital," she said.

Jon Fisher, head of communications for Buckinghamshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "We regret that on this evening, due to a large number of children requiring hospital stays across Thames Valley, many hospitals, like Stoke Mandeville, were unable to offer inpatient accommodation to children.

"This is a rare occurrence and we sympathise with the family for the experience they had.

"Unfortunately, from time to time across the region, much larger than usual numbers of children require in-patient care... and are therefore unable to be offered immediate accommodation at their hospital of choice."

Yet, he said: "We believe that by bringing together our in-patient children's wards at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and reorganising the way in which children receive their care, these instances will become even rarer."

Mr Grieve said: "I find this story extremely worrying. The standard of service given to this boy is below standard. It highlights the fact there is now a limited number of services Wycombe Hospital provides."

Joshua is now on the mend, and was back at Juniper Hill School, Flackwell Heath, on Wednesday.

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