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Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
'The medics treated Max as we flew'
By Jane Elliott
BBC News health reporter

Max Childerhouse
Max is now thriving
Within hours of his uncomplicated birth Max Childerhouse became so seriously ill that he struggled to breathe and had to be ventilated.

As his condition rapidly deteriorated doctors told his distraught parents that he would have to be moved to Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children (GOSH) for more specialist care.

Medics were, however, deeply worried about his condition and whether he would be well enough to make the journey.

The consultant phoned the Children's Acute Transport Service (CATS) and a specialist team of medics were flown to Norwich from GOSH to assess and treat Max and get him to one of their intensive care beds.


His mother Nicola is convinced that without CATS specialist input, that her young son, who had Group B streptococcal infection would not have survived the week.

Group Strep B can lead to the potentially fatal blood poisoning condition sepsis, which can kill between 10 and 20% of premature babies who develop it and about 5 to 10% of full-term babies.

Each time we got some more news it seemed to be worse, it was utterly devastating
Nicola Childerhouse

"It was absolutely terrifying. Each time we got some more news it seemed to be worse, it was utterly devastating," said Nicola.

But the GOSH team, made up of a consultant and two nurses, who brought all the equipment and drugs needed to treat Max, including a special incubator, were able to get him stable.

They pronounced him fit to travel and throughout the short helicopter flight to London continued treating him.

Nicola said it had been a surreal experience. She was deeply worried about Max - but was still able to appreciate the work carried out by CATS.

"I was calm enough by then to take it all in and it was wonderful what they did. They looked after me too. They made sure I was informed about what was going on during the helicopter ride. It was fantastic watching it going on."


At first Max was transferred to cardiac intensive care, because doctors feared a heart problem and then to neonatal intensive care.

After a week he was allowed back to Norwich's neonatal children's ward and a week later he was discharged.

Three months on Max is thriving, but Nicola said she and her husband Paul would always be grateful for the care they received from CATS.

"Max is absolutely fine now, he was completely well within a few weeks. He has needed a few check-ups and will need another one when he is a year-old."

The transfer is really an extension of intensive care because we start the treatment on the child immediately
Dr Andy Petros, CATS paediatric intensivist consultant

CATS, the specialised rapid response team which covers London and East Anglia has just been awarded an NHS emergency care award.

Based at GOSH it is linked to St Mary's and Royal Brompton Hospitals, London and Addenbrooke's, in Cambridge.

Since it was established in 2001 the service has taken 5,460 calls and made 2,927 intensive care transfers.

Each year it transfers about 1,200 children to an appropriate intensive care unit.

Dr Andy Petros, CATS paediatric intensivist consultant, said the beauty of the scheme was that with a single phone call that a hospital could get expert clinical advice from the team, who would then arrange a bed for the child.

Within 20 minutes a team could be mobilised to get and treat the child.

"The consultant from the referring hospital will ring us and we would give them advice and send a team of doctors and nurses to them.

"The transfer is really an extension of intensive care because we start the treatment on the child immediately.

"We can incubate the child immediately and get them started on whatever drugs are needed."

Dr Petros said he is convinced the scheme is saving lives, by getting specialist care as speedily as possible to the sick children.

"I have not got any figures for this, but I am sure that it is saving lives."


CATS nurse specialist adviser Eithne Polke, who helped set up the service said the award was a recognition of all their hard work.

"We are delighted to see our collaborative service being recognised in this way and that it is working so well.

"It's also fantastic that we are able to offer the expertise of specially trained doctors and nurses to stabilise and transfer critically ill children, and the evidence suggests that the use of a specialised team helps to improve outcomes."

The judges praised CATS saying it was an effective way of delivering services and improving care.

"As a parent you do not want to think about ever needing paediatric intensive care transport.

"However this initiative/service change has demonstrated how the provision of paediatric intensive care on the road can significantly improve the care delivered to children through enabling doctors and nurses to concentrate on looking after the child, whilst a dedicated team of experts can facilitate transport and identify an appropriate bed. Simple yet effective."

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