Scots couple make 174-mile round trip each day to visit premature twins

A mum and dad spend eight hours every day travelling on public transport to see their premature twins because their nearest hospital has no beds for them.

David Cox and his partner Karen Surgenor, both 39, have to make a 174-mile round trip each day to spend time with their sons Cole and Harris.

They set off from their home in Helensburgh, Argyll, to Kirkcaldy in Fife to see the twins.

The couple already had eight children between them when the babies were born on September 14. Four of them are still at school and their youngest son, Lewis, is just 14 months old.

They say the amount of time they have to spend away from their family is heartbreaking. David said: “The older ones aren’t too bad but Lewis is missing us. He is getting clingy and tearful.”

Karen had been booked in for a caesarian at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley on October 22. However, her waters broke early on September 13.

There were no beds at the RAH, so she was sent to Wishaw General in Lanarkshire – 46 miles from her home.

The following morning, Cole was born weighing just 2lb 11oz. Harris, at 3lb 8oz, was delivered by caesarian an hour later.

Wishaw General Hospital

Shortly afterwards, the couple were told the babies had to be moved because there was no room for them.

David said: “We were told Wishaw normally cared for babies who were much more premature than ours so they would have to go somewhere else to free up space.”

The hospital told them they were being sent to Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy – more than 80 miles from their home.

Since then, the couple have had to rely on public transport to get to see their sons.

They catch a train at 9.25am after the older children go off to school, arriving at the hospital just before 2pm after a journey involving two trains and a bus. After just two hours with their twins they leave to for home, arriving back at 8pm.

David said: “We are supposed to be bonding with our children but sometimes I am so exhausted when I get there I fall asleep in the chair next to them.”

The only quality time they get is at the weekend when the hospital arranges a room for them from Friday to Sunday.

Karen is a stay-at-home mum, while David is self-employed as a painter and decorator. And he admits having all but abandoned work since the twins were born, trying to sneak in a few hours early in the morning before leaving for their marathon trip.

And while they do get help from the NHS for their travel, they are only reimbursed for half of it – leaving them £150 out of pocket every week.

David said: “Every day the hospital has phoned the RAH to see if they can be transferred but every day there is a different excuse. They are just palming us off.”

AN NHS GG&C spokesman said: “The Neonatal Unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital has been very busy… and at times we have experienced difficulties in accommodating some patients.

“In these circumstances, in line with national guidance, we identify the nearest hospital with available space and the patient is transferred there.

“Any decisions about the transfer of patients from that hospital would be taken by staff there, not by the RAH.”

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