Wigan boy sent home from hospital twice with simple "infection" is now battling meningitis

A seven-year-old Wigan schoolboy is battling meningitis after twice being discharged from hospital, the first time after staff allegedly said he was “playing up” his condition.

Family of Eliott Dandy have lodged formal complaints with both Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust and also the borough CCG for not taking his symptoms seriously enough.

The Hindley youngster is now in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, having received several days of specialist treatment for the potentially deadly septic infection in its high dependency unit.

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He appears to be progressing well although he has a large blister on his arm and a mysterious pain in his hip.

Platt Bridge Medical Centre

He has undergone a lumbar puncture so medics know whether he has the bacterial or viral form of meningitis.

Relatives feel that had doctors acted quicker – including a local GP who didn’t prescribe antibiotic tablets when they first became concerned – then all this trouble might have been avoided.

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The Platt Bridge St Mary’s Primary School pupil has been prone to water infections and is due to have treatment in future, so when he first began to feel poorly, parents Brad and Jodie wondered if that had recurred.

On Monday September 26 he complained of having a sore neck – although that was at first put down to him sleeping awkwardly - and later on felt unusually sleepy and stayed over at his nan Eunice Willis’s house for the night.

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Eliott was "pumped full of drugs" on his arrival at Alder Hey, relatives say

Brad’s mum Julie Dandy said that during the night he developed a temperature and was sick, so on the Tuesday he was taken to Platt Bridge health centre.

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The GP prescribed antibiotic cream but not pills, despite his receiving such tablets to treat previous infections. Eunice asked “why not this time/” and she was told “he doesn’t need them”.

Through Tuesday Eliott began to feel worse, complaining of head and stomach ache on top of the temperature and fatigue and eventually Brad took him to Wigan Infirmary.

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Julie said: “They didn’t take it seriously enough. They said that while they didn’t doubt there was something wrong, he was also ‘playing on it’ and so he was eventually sent home again. They didn’t even take any bloods.”

At midnight Thursday through to Friday, Elliot was back in A&E after also shying away from bright light, photophobia being a classic symptom of meningitis.

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This this time bloods were taken, but no alarm bells rang and Julie says that while doctors said that Eliott did indeed have some sort of infection, they should give the antibiotics time to take effect and he would “ride it out and get better.”

Julie said: “He had only been home four hours and I went to see him, tried to pick him up and he screamed like I have never heard him scream before. He was in so much pain and when I asked where he shouted ‘my neck, my neck, my neck.’

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"I told Brad to meet me at Alder Hey. We took Eliott there, he was given a finger prick test and within two hours he had been diagnosed with sepsis.

"It was very frightening. He was being pumped with all sorts of stuff and they were talking about putting him in intensive care.

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"We said ‘hang on, it’s only a few hours ago that a hospital told us he was fine.’ How could his markers change so that one hour he’s OK and four hours later he is dangerously ill?

Julie said she believes that Eliott’s problems started as a simple infection and if that had been treated by the first GP properly, it would have avoided the escalation to a medical emergency.

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Eliott was in the high dependency unit for several days - with a one-to-one nurse keeping watch round the clock for any sudden condition changes – but has now been moved to another room.

There has been trouble keeping his blood pressure levels up and he has developed the blister and hip pain but family are hoping that the worst is over and have reported that he has smiled for the first time in many days.

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But Julie added: “We are angry at several people really – the first GP plus A&E staff – who did not take things seriously enough.”If we had not acted so quickly and not just taken the medical advice I dread to think what might have happened

"Lessons need to be learnt. We don’t want this happening to anyone else.”

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Prof Sanjay Arya, medical director of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are sorry to learn of the family’s experience at our hospital.

“We would like to reassure them that we are looking into the concerns that they have raised with regard to both of their visits to our A&E department as part of our formal complaints process.”

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Wigan Borough CCG was also asked for a comment but had not responded at the time of publication.