In a recent North Devon Journal article, a Braunton family welcomed the news that a Meningitis B vaccine will be provided to babies and young children. Oliver Thorne, a clinical negligence specialist with Devon and Somerset solicitors, Slee Blackwell, has reason to share their delight.
Oliver, who is head of clinical negligence at the firm’s Barnstaple office, commented: “I have been a medical negligence lawyer for nearly 10 years now and have seen a number of meningitis cases during that time. Meningitis B is a serious condition which, if left untreated, can have catastrophic consequences. A freely available vaccine for Meningitis B has been a long time coming, but I am very pleased that it will soon be available on the NHS. Only a few weeks ago was I contacted by a family who have been left devastated by the effects of Meningitis. I find it shocking that GP’s and Hospitals are still failing to diagnose and treat the condition.”
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord and is caused by either a bacterial or viral infection.
Bacterial Meningitis is particularly serious and is caused when bacteria from an infection site, enters the blood stream. Our body’s own defences should stop the infection, but when they fail septicaemia (blood poisoning) can occur. Septicaemia can have serious consequences and even lead to death if it is not treated by antibiotics immediately. Bacterial meningitis most commonly affects children under five years of age, particularly babies under the age of one. It’s also common among teenagers aged 15 to 19
Viral Meningitis is the most common form of Meningitis and can often be mistaken for flu.
In March 2015 it was announced by the government that all babies in the UK will soon be vaccinated against meningococcal B (MenB) disease as part of the national childhood immunisation programme. This announcement is based on a recommendation in 2014 by the Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisations (JCVI), which advises the government on vaccinations. There were lengthy negotiations between the government and drug manufacturers before an agreement was reached. The vaccine, which will be offered to babies at 2, 4 and 12 months of age, is expected to start in September 2015. The vaccine is already available to people in the UK who wish to pay for it privately or are at an increased risk of the disease due to other medical conditions.
“This is excellent news and sadly, like a number of antibiotic treatments, the delay in providing the vaccine through the NHS came down to funding,” said Oliver. “Babies and young children are amongst those at the highest risk of developing meningitis as due to their young age they are unlikely to have encountered the bacteria that causes it.”
The NHS advice to anyone who is concerned that they or a member of their family may have symptoms of Meningitis, is to seek medical attention straight away. Symptoms include a fever, with cold hands and feet, vomiting, pale blotchy skin and sometimes a rash, a stiff neck and a severe headache.
Failure to diagnose and treat Meningitis can give rise to a claim for medical negligence. In these circumstances it is important to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with this highly specialised area.
We deal with claims on a No Win, No Fee basis and offer a FREE clinical negligence helpline which you can call on Freephone 0808 139 1606. Alternatively you can meet with one of our clinical negligence specialists at either our Barnstaple or Taunton offices.