Variety and NETS launch vital emergency tool for the sick

CHILDREN'S charity Variety and the Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS) launched a development in Westmead on Tuesday that will improve diagnosis and treatment times for sick or injured children in NSW hospitals.

Variety CEO Tam Johnston said high-quality video cameras with remotely-controlled pan, tilt and zoom functions as well as a monitor and built-in microphones have been installed under the Vision For Life program in hospitals at Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Grafton and Kempsey.

The launch follows a pilot at Campbelltown and Liverpool, while another 14 hospitals are set to receive the technology in the next few months.

"It's saving lives," Ms Johnston said. "The cameras installed at regional or remote hospitals link back to major children's hospitals in NSW and will help ensure babies and children get the best medical care before they are transported to metropolitan hospitals.

"It will help in making that decision about where to transfer a child."

Ms Johnston recalled the story of Beau Cudmore, who was a newborn baby at Campbelltown Hospital and was seen by specialists over a Vision for Life videolink.

"His life was on the line because he was gasping for air. They could see him struggle to breathe, which helped them make a visual diagnosis and they were able to save his life," she said. "That little boy just turned one."

NETS director Andrew Berry said until now, most remote diagnosis and support of a premature baby or a sick or critically injured child has been by telephone without any ability to see the child being described.

"This allows for a more accurate diagnosis and will help avoid unnecessary patient transfers," Dr Berry said.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner said the NSW Government is proud to partner with the $7 million program. Ms Johnston said corporate support is required to roll the program out to every neonatal nursery and children's ward in NSW.

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