No beds, so Bella’s surgery has to wait

Bella Collins. DER1014SL22 Photo: Stephen Latimer
Bella Collins. DER1014SL22 Photo: Stephen Latimer

Surgery for a severely disabled child has been cancelled because there are no beds available in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, the Journal can reveal

Two-years-old Bella Collins, who needs her enlarged tonsils removed to help with her severe sleep apnoea now has to stay in Altnagelvin Hospital every night.

Amanda Dougherty pictured with her daughter, Bella Collins. DER1014SL21 Photo: Stephen Latimer

Amanda Dougherty pictured with her daughter, Bella Collins. DER1014SL21 Photo: Stephen Latimer

This is essential as she stops breathing for seven to ten seconds in every thirty seconds.

Her mother Amanda Dougherty, from the Waterside, says the family cannot take much more.

She said, “Our life is on hold. Bella needs this surgery as soon as possible.

“It is so difficult to watch as every gasp for breath she takes at night is a struggle.”

The courageous toddler already copes with a series of complex health issues. She was diagnosed with Spina Bifida before she was born, and as a result will spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

She also has a hydrocephalus shunt, a rare genetic condition called Mosaic Turner’s Syndrome and epilepsy.

A visit to Great Ormond Street Hospital for other problems has also had to be cancelled while Bella waits on this simple procedure in Belfast.

Amanda says this is “incredibly frustrating”.

“Bella copes so well but she shouldn’t have to. She always has a smile on her face and that keeps me going.

“But I’m so tired of having to fight all the time to get the treatment she is entitled to.

“We so desperately want to take her home, but she needs a medical team on standby during the night in case she stops breathing completely.

A spokesperson for the Belfast Heath Trust said, “We are sorry that any child should have to wait for surgery. However, it is paramount that we ensure a safe service.

“HDU beds are part of the paediatric intensive care unit and these are used according to clinical need.

“Our staff are in close contact with the family as well as our colleagues in Altnagelvin Hospital and will reschedule her surgery at the earliest possible opportunity.”

However, Amanda insists that they have not been in touch. “We have never had a call from the medical team in Belfast.

“I cannot praise the staff at Altnagelvin enough but communication from the Belfast Trust has been non-existent.

“This is not good enough. Bella needs a high dependency bed for a very short time but until that’s available we are living in a nightmare with no end in sight.”