The family of Maham Zaheer, a nine-year-old girl, said they felt abandoned after Birmingham Children’s Hospital withdrew from Maham Zaheer’s complex care contract in April after the family complained about the lack of carers.
Maham’s condition means she cannot speak, eat or walk and needs round the clock care. Since the contract was terminated in April, her family has been left 49 nights without cover and said they are exhausted and desperate.
The trust however said that staffing pressures was the reason for its “difficult decision”. After carers failed to show up, Maham’s parents have had to balance her care with work.
Maham suffers from merosin muscular dystrophy and spent three years at the hospital. Most of this time was spent in intensive care, while she has been cared for at home for the past five years.
Maham’s mother, Nomia Naz said Maham cannot speak, eat, walk and has to be wet ventilated at night to stop her suffocating. Also, secretions have to be removed from her lungs while her medications need to be made and given at specific times
The family complained that since the trust served notice about ending the contract, shifts have continually been missed with 49 shifts missed already as they have not been given night carers every day as they should.
Mrs. Naz said: “They have left us day and night without care and they have a child under their care for five years and it’s just a ‘sorry’, that hurts. We are exhausted, physically as well as mentally. We have been caring day and night as well as working. We have no respite.”
On 20 April, the NHS Commissioner emailed the hospital and asked them to meet the parents and address their concerns. However just nine days later, the family were served a three months’ notice.
The trust apologised to the family for not informing them before making the decision but said due process was followed.
A spokesperson for the board said: “Sadly, since the end of last year it became increasingly difficult for us to provide the care, we were commissioned to do due to staffing pressures, for this reason, we informed the family and our commissioners we had taken the difficult decision to end our time providing the package of care a few months ago. We are continuing to work closely with commissioners and the new provider to offer training and share information, as well as with Maham’s family, to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.”
The family said they have had no night cover at all and very little day care since the notice period ended in July.
Just recently, Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board appointed a private provider, Apollo Home Healthcare but also said Maham’s family requested the carers be given appropriate training from Children’s Hospital staff before they take over caring for their child.
“This is an ongoing process which means Apollo have not covered some shifts at the request of the family, but we are confident that training will be completed imminently ahead of Apollo carers covering all of the shifts within the package,” a spokesperson said.
Apollo Home Healthcare has however said its staff had sufficient expertise to care for Maham and was working with the family.
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