GP service apologises to parents of asthmatic toddler

Western Urgent Care has apologised to the parents of an asthmatic toddler from Newtownstewart after an out-of-hours GP failed to tell them their son could be examined in Strabane.

The McElwee family were told to go to Altnagelvin or Omagh hospital after three-year-old Thomas became ill.

According to procedure all patients should be given the opportunity to choose which base they wish to attend.

His father, who is also called Thomas, said it should never have happened.

"It's a 45 mile round trip from my house to Altnagelvin, he should have had the right to be seen in Strabane surgery," he said.

"The first couple of minutes are crucial, it's a life-threatening situation when anyone is gasping for air, especially a child who doesn't know what's going on."

In a letter, the GP service has apologised to the family for the distress caused by the incident.

Mr McElwee said, "I would like to see anyone who has experienced what we have making a complaint."

Western Urgent Care is now seeking an explanation from the GP on duty, but said they were not in a position to comment because of patient confidentiality.