Baby with painful skin condition faces long wait for help
A DESPERATE Ipswich mother has turned to an overseas doctor to help treat her baby's painful skin condition after being put on a 12-month waiting list by Lady Cilento Children's' Hospital.
Five-month-old baby Kelsey has spent almost her whole life in pain as a horrific, itchy rash spread across her tiny body.
She's one of 200 children waiting to see a specialist dermatologist at Lady Cilento.
The hospital says it's trying to reduce waiting times.
But in the meantime parents like Kelsey's mum Alexandra Dean are being forced to fork out for private practitioners or watch their children suffer.
When Kelsey was three weeks old a small rash appeared on her neck. By six weeks it had spread to cover her entire face.
Doctors told her mother Alexandra the rash was eczema and to use moisturising cream.
But nothing helped and if Kelsey wasn't wearing mittens for a matter of minutes she scratched her face so much it bled.
Six weeks ago Kelsey was admitted to hospital as an emergency when the infection under her skin became serious.
Doctors at Lady Cilento Hospital prescribed antibiotics, which worked but only for the nine days Kelsey could take the tablets.
Afterwards Alexandra was told she would be waiting 12 months to see a dermatologist for an initial consult.
"The day after she stopped the course of antibiotics it came back in full force," Alexandra said.
"It's so heartbreaking watching her scratching constantly, bleeding and crying all the time.
"To be told she would have to go through that for another year of her life was too much."
Frustrated with local practitioners, Alexandra turned to a South African doctor recommended on support sites for parents dealing with similar problems.
Within seven days she was given a treatment plan and a script. The cream worked overnight.
Three weeks ago baby Kelsey's face was red and raw but now the rash is gone and she has stopped crying all the time.
But it's costing more than $200 a month.
None of the fees are covered by Medicare and Alexandra can't afford private health insurance.
She's relying on family, friends and the kindness of strangers donating to her GoFundMe Page.
There are three different waiting lists for children to see a dermatologist through the public health system with times of 30 days, 90 days and 365 days.
Lady Cilento Hospital says there are "no children who require an urgent appointment waiting to be seen" and only 12 children waiting longer than recommended.
But Alexandra, placed on the least critical list, can't understand how the public system could expect her to sit back and wait while her baby is in pain and crying every day.
"It's frustrating," Alexandra said.
"I know it's not life threatening but she wasn't sleeping for longer than two hours, was always scratching and crying. How can they say that's not critical?
"I don't know how they can let children live like this."
Since Lady Cilento opened in November 2014 a second dermatology clinic has been started.
There are four specialist dermatologists, assisted by three specialist dermatologists-in-training working at Lady Cilento Hospital's clinics, open four days each week.
Executive Director Medical Services, Children's Health Queensland Dr Andrew Hallahan said the addition of nursing staff and changes to the booking process would see no children waiting longer than recommended within the next three months.
"All patient referrals to the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital are reviewed by a senior doctor," Dr Hallahan said.
"Appointments are allocated based on a clinically recommended timeline.
"Children's Health Queensland is recruiting additional nursing staff and improving clinic booking processes to utilise clinic times more efficiently."