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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 August 2007, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Row after burns unit refuses baby
East Grinstead burns unit
The hospital said the unit welcomes "appropriate referrals"
A row has erupted after an eight-month old baby was turned away from the burns unit of a Sussex hospital.

Kent Air Ambulance claims the unit at East Grinstead's Queen Victoria Hospital refused the boy because it does not take the service's referrals.

The hospital said there was no such policy and an on-call consultant had recommended the infant be taken to A&E.

The baby was admitted to Maidstone Hospital, Kent, and then referred to East Grinstead burns unit the next day.

Kent Air Ambulance Trust chief executive David Philpott said a mother had brought her baby to the Air Ambulance's airbase in Marden on Sunday 5 August.

Our policy remains the same. We welcome all appropriate referrals. In this case it was deemed to be not so
Sharon Kearns, chief executive

He said a pre-accident care doctor decided the child should be taken to the burns unit but when they called to make the referral they were told the hospital had a policy of not accepting air ambulance patients.

Mr Philpott said: "These injuries were potentially life threatening, and I believe the hospital may have been guilty of a gross breach of relevant duty of care.

"Since this burns unit is designated as a major incident hospital I dread to think what the repercussions for the hospital would be should their be a terrorist incident."

He added: "We will not let matters rest until we have got to the bottom of this.

"If, as it would appear, parts of this hospital have adopted a policy of refusing to accept our patients, we will want to know who made the decision and whether the hospital board supported it."

Queen Victoria hospital chief executive Sharon Kearns refuted Mr Philpott's claims, saying a consultant had recommended that the child, who had a small burn, be taken to the nearest A&E.

She said: "Our policy remains the same. We welcome all appropriate referrals. In this case it was deemed to be not so.

She added: "Regrettably, David Philpott has not spoken to me about this. I will be talking directly to him at the earliest opportunity to resolve this."

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