"Daughter with meningitis but not sick enough!"

About: Kettering General Hospital

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My 17-year old daughter was admitted into Kettering A&E around lunchtime on 14 December and was quickly diagnosed with suspected meningitis. Unfortunately, the excellent doctor went off duty at 4.30 pm and the standard of care in my opinion subsequently dropped. She was eventually moved to an assessment ward at about 8 pm and here was told by a nurse on more than one occasion that the man in the room next door was much sicker than her and she would just have to wait to be seen by a doctor.

The doctor arrived at midnight. She started to receive anti-viral medication and antibiotics at 1 am on 15 December – 12 hours after admission. She did not have a lumbar puncture until midday on 15 December – nearly 24 hours after the first doctor suspected meningitis. When she was finally diagnosed with viral meningitis we were told it was mild and she would be home in three days; a couple of days later we were told it would be a week and when the full severity of her illness was finally realised she eventually stayed in for 16 nights.

She was transferred to Fotheringhay Ward, which is an isolation ward with strict visiting hours, despite us being told that she was not infectious. This meant that I could only see my daughter for one hour, twice a day. This was particularly hard over the Christmas period when other family members and friends wanted to visit too. Sometimes I would stay quietly in her room to get a bit longer with her. However, on one occasion when her Dad tried to do this he was asked to leave – a bit harsh! This ward also doesn't allow under 16s, which meant that her brothers and sisters couldn't visit even though she was in her own room. At no point during her 11 nights on this ward did a doctor or nurse try to contact me about my daughter’s health or after care. In fact, when I raised a concern about looking after her once she had been discharged I was told by a nurse that under no circumstances was I to bring her back!

Some positives – The A&E receptionist was excellent when I brought her in – she could see how ill she was and quickly helped to make her comfortable whilst we waited, which was only for about 10 minutes. The initial medical team were fantastic. The majority of the nursing staff were excellent too – caring and understanding whilst remaining professional. On Christmas Eve the nursing staff hung a stocking in her room with some gifts which was a lovely thought and really kind of them. The doctors and nurses also arranged for her to come home on Christmas and Boxing Day, which we all really appreciated.

All in all - I thought A&Es response to suspected meningitis was far, far too slow - very worrying, the level of care was inconsistent and there was little thought about involving the family.

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