THE family of an 18-month-old toddler who had urgent open-heart surgery over Christmas are petitioning to improve local drop-in services that can help parents find issues earlier.

Finley Pattison-Linighan, from Monk Bretton, was rushed from Sheffield Children’s Hospital to the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit on December 20 where medics quickly discovered the toddler had been living with an undiagnosed heart disease.

Prior to this his mother, Daniella, had visited multiple GPs and had regular contact with health visitors as she had noticed that her son had lost weight and was becoming increasingly lethargic.

Daniella’s cousin, Katherine Jones, has now started a petition following her ‘heart-wrenching experience’ to try and improve the services available to parents and infants.

She said: “My cousin struggled to get anyone to listen. She rang the health visitors but couldn’t get to see anyone for a month.

“There are no drop-in clinics in Barnsley to help, there’s health facilities but obviously you’ve got to book an appointment and that takes time.”

Local drop-in clinics closed during the Covid lockdowns, however never re-opened.

Due to this inability to access health workers, Finley’s condition went undiagnosed until he was taken to Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s A and E, who were thankfully able to catch it early enough to be treated, and the brave toddler is now living happily and healthily.

In only a few days, Katherine’s petition has already received more than half of the needed signatures, and they are well on their way to pushing for further action

“I feel like something like this will help give parents more support,” Katherine added. "According to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), regular monitoring of children’s growth is crucial as it can help detect serious conditions such as malnutrition or underlying diseases like congenital heart disease early on.

“The implementation of these drop-in clinics will not only ensure that all children receive the necessary attention they require but also relieve parents from unnecessary stress while waiting for scheduled appointments.”

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis urged the government to train up more staff.

“The lack of resources the NHS receives to support parents and their children is something people are rightly concerned about.

“Particularly given that when they’re caught early, illnesses and conditions are easier to treat and address.

“We should be urgently training more health visitors and providing the resources they need to ensure that our children get the support they need, so that parents are not left scrambling to book emergency GP appointments.”

Sign the petition here: