Eight month old patient Arlo Watson, from Shropshire, is the face of our charity’s new £2 million Critical Journeys Appeal, which will transform the patient experience of the KIDS/NTS service – an advice, stabilisation and transport service dedicated to the management of critically ill infants and children in the West Midlands.

Launched today, Thursday 17 August, this Appeal will raise money to kit out four Critical Care Ambulances with the same, and latest, life-saving medical equipment. This will enable the KIDS/NTS service to respond faster and more effectively, helping vulnerable patients and their families get to the right place, at the right time, for the right treatment. 

Arlo is just one of over 2,000 babies, children and young people moved by the KIDS/NTS service every year – the newly merged Kids Intensive Care and Decision Support (KIDS) Service and Neonatal Transfer Service (NTS), hosted at our hospital.

Born four months early at 25 weeks, and weighing just 755 grams (1.6Ibs), Arlo faced an uphill struggle. Tiny – but in his mum’s words ‘absolutely perfect’ – Arlo has since been transferred eight times by the team, who provide expert advice and the specialist care required to move seriously ill babies and children, like Arlo, from one hospital to another in the West Midlands.

Laura Watson, Arlo’s mum, said:

Arlo’s situation has at times been critical and has involved multiple transfers from one hospital to another in the West Midlands, including the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.

The KIDS/NTS team have been amazing. When they arrive they command control of the room and we always feel like we’re in expert hands. They’re always kind and reassuring, providing highly professional and skilled care.

Laura added:

Arlo simply wouldn’t be here without the KIDS/NTS service. They were the absolute experts who got him to where he needed to be, with minimum fuss and maximum skill. I cannot put into words what they mean to us, but we will be grateful to them for the rest of our lives.

Funding state-of-the art-equipment for the fleet of four Critical Care Ambulances will remove the need to share equipment between ambulances, ensuring the KIDS/NTS service can respond to simultaneous demands and increase response time, which will ultimately result in better care and outcomes for critically ill babies and children and most importantly, help to save more lives.

Money raised through the Critical Journeys Appeal will also fund an upgrade in infrastructure, improving the call centres call quality and conference call facilities, helping distraught families over the phone until the KIDS/NTS transfer team arrive.

In addition, the much-needed Appeal will enable the KIDS/NTS service to continue to deliver specialist care with compassion, by providing parents and children with added comforts such as phone chargers, snacks, teddy bears and DVDs as a welcome distraction in their time of need.

Dr Alex Philpott, Consultant Neonatal Medicine/Neonatal Transport Medicine at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, commented:

We are committed to providing the best service possible for all our sick children. Upgrading equipment and fully kitting out all four ambulances will effectively take our service from a gold standard service to platinum, helping us to be response-ready and allowing us to move more patients with the same level of specialist equipment used in specialist care.

The £2 million raised will continue to support children like Arlo, and their families, and ensure the highest standards of care are met. 

To get involved visit our Critical Journeys Appeal, or text TIME18, followed by your donation, to 70070 (for example, text TIME18 £5 or TIME18 £3) to donate to the appeal.