A WHISTLEBLOWER today reveals ambulance drivers have been instructed to bypass Inverclyde Royal and take sick children on a 20-minute journey to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow.

Paramedics are being told to travel up the M8 to Govan with ill youngsters instead of heading to the Greenock accident and emergency department on their doorstep.

Health board officials admit that in 'the majority' of cases admissions do go directly to the Royal Hospital for Children (RHC) - part of the Queen Elizabeth campus - but say that local A&Es, including at the IRH, is still an option.

However, one serving ambulance worker says that is simply not the case.

The person, who does not want to be named, told the Telegraph: "I can understand they want them to go to the hospital with all the specialist care but I don't understand driving by a hospital with someone that's really not well when staff there are far more qualified and capable to look after them than any paramedic or technician.

"Instead you're going on a 20-minute journey to another hospital.

"There's nothing in black and white saying there's a divert on Inverclyde Royal and to go to the sick kids' hospital, this is all from the consultants.

"It's the public that's suffering, not anyone else.

"If the public knew the half of what's going on there would be an outcry."

The claims were backed up by Greenock councillor and veteran health campaigner Ciano Rebecchi, who says he has heard similar accounts.

The former provost said: "If you have kids in an emergency situation you should be taking them to the nearest hospital.

"I wouldn't want to be an ambulance driver here, having to go up and down the motorway with people who don't move out of the way, all while worried about your patient.

"Their blood pressure must be through the roof."

Officials from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde say the most important thing is that youngsters receive the best possible care.

A spokeswoman said: "The majority of children across all our communities requiring emergency medical care and admission to hospital go directly to the new Royal Hospital for Children.

"However, where clinically appropriate, children will be taken by ambulance to their nearest emergency department.

"The most important thing is that a child receives the right treatment at the right hospital for their condition and the RHC is the most appropriate hospital for seriously ill children or paediatric trauma cases from across Greater Glasgow and Clyde and beyond.

"The emergency department at the Inverclyde Royal Hospital will continue to see children brought to the department by their parents, although they will, if necessary, be transferred to the RHC if they require an admission."