Service which stopped youngster being left with permanent bone damage celebrates anniversary

PUBLISHED: 20:56 13 September 2018 | UPDATED: 23:07 13 September 2018

Lillie McCarthy. Photo: NNUH

Lillie McCarthy. Photo: NNUH


When nine-month-old Lillie McCarthy lost the use of her right arm due to a rare but serious infection, it could have left her with permanent damage.

Paediatric Orthopaedic Emergency Service team. Photo: NNUHPaediatric Orthopaedic Emergency Service team. Photo: NNUH

But thanks to the quick action of a specialist team at the region’s flagship hospital, the youngster was able to fully recover.

Lillie’s mother Emma, 27, first noticed her daughter, now two, had pain in her right arm and was in distress.

She said: “It was clear Lillie was in a large amount of discomfort so we took her straight to the A&E department at the James Paget Hospital. What we didn’t know was what was causing the pain and after multiple scans, tests and a GP visit too, we were referred to the specialist service at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital by James Paget Hospital to try and find out what was causing Lillie’s pain.”

Lillie, from Caister, near Great Yarmouth, was seen at the NNUH by the paediatric orthopaedic emergency service and diagnosed with osteomyelitis, an bone infection in her wrist.

Emma, Olly and Lillie McCarthy. Photo: NNUHEmma, Olly and Lillie McCarthy. Photo: NNUH

She was rushed to surgery to remove and reconstruct the part of the bone which was infected, overseen by paediatric orthopaedic consultant Anish Sanghrajka.

She was given a cast and stayed on Buxton ward for two weeks.

Mrs McCarthy said: “It was a very stressful time for us but the care that Lillie received was amazing. From the nurses and surgeons to all the behind-the-scenes staff, they all went above and beyond to help Lillie get better. We’re very grateful that this specialist service was so close by, as travelling further afield would have definitely created additional stress for our family.”

The paediatric orthopaedic emergency service has just marked its one year anniversary.

It provides specialist emergency orthopaedic care to patients aged zero to 12 across Norfolk and Suffolk, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It is the biggest children’s orthopaedics department in the east of England, and has expanded to having four consultants.

Before the department could provide round the clock care younger patients would have needed to travel as far as London or Birmingham out of hours.

Mr Sanghrajka said: “It’s a massive multi-disciplinary effort to provide this round-the-clock service. Over the last 12 months, the service has made great progress and has seen fantastic benefits for our younger patients and their families. Having this service means that patients and their families don’t have to travel to London or Birmingham during often very stressful times for them, and they can benefit from this specialist expertise at any time of day or night a lot closer to home.

“The service also shows fantastic collaborative working between NNUH and the other local trusts in the region.”

The service receives referrals from James Paget Hospital, Ipswich Hospital, West Suffolk Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn.

The introduction of the service came in alignment with the team’s virtual paediatric orthopaedic emergency clinic, where if deemed appropriate, younger patients and their families or carers receive a telephone consultation instead of a hospital appointment.

This service has managed 1500 patients in its first year.

The service developments made by the team were recently recognised nationally and internationally with NNUH colleagues presenting their work to the British Trauma Society Conference and the European Federation of Orthopaedics and Traumatology.

Erika Denton, NNUH medical director said: “It’s fantastic to see what a difference this service has made to young people across Norfolk and Suffolk. I’d like to thank the whole multi-disciplinary team for their hard work to get this service up and running and congratulate them on reaching this one year milestone.”

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