Parents feel ‘raw’ after little girl died when medics failed to spot meningitis

Meningitis: Dr Hilary outlines the main symptoms

Her parents Tracey Shephard, 51, and David Luffingham, 56, took Annie, known, to the children’s Accident and Emergency department at Croydon University Hospital.

Dad David, from Addiscombe, Croydon, said: “We thought the best place for her would be in hospital, as we thought she would receive what care she needed to recover.”

It was the morning of February 11, 2020, and the family were in hospital as Annie suffered a high temperature, eye pain and a headache.

Annie also felt dizzy, confused and felt sick, but staff incorrectly completed a screening tool for sepsis, which resulted in a lengthy wait in the emergency department.

An NHS report said if tests had been completed correctly, Annie would have been transferred to a specialist paediatric team and received intravenous antibiotics within an hour.

READ MORE… Mum’s torment after girl, 7, comes home with ‘sniffles’ and dies a day later

Instead, Annie – who was first taken to hospital at 10am didn’t receive antibiotics for six-and-a-half hours – until 4.30pm that afternoon.

Soon after, at 5.50pm, Annie had a cardiac arrest and, while resuscitated and transferred to another hospital, she died the next day.

Following her death, a Root Cause Analysis Investigation Report by Croydon Health Services NHS Trust identified 11 problems in Annie’s care.

In a letter to the bereaved parents, the Trust wrote: “The treatment provided to Annalise by the Trust fell below the standard of care she was entitled to expect.

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“There were failures to recognise the severity of Annalise’s illness resulting in delays in providing appropriate treatment.”

The Trust expressed “very real regret” that “opportunities were missed to prevent her death”.

Distraught about the loss of her daughter, Tracey said: “Even more than three years on the hurt and pain we feel over her death is still as raw as it was the day she died.

“Our lives will never be the same without her. It’s devastating that she’ll never grow up and fulfil the potential she had.”


The NHS explains” “Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord (meninges).”

If not treated quickly, it can lead to blood poisoning (sepsis) and can result in permanent damage to the brain.

Symptoms of meningitis develop suddenly and can include:

  • A high temperature (fever)
  • Being sick
  • A headache
  • A rash that does not fade when a glass is rolled over it (but a rash will not always develop)
  • A stiff neck
  • A dislike of bright lights
  • Drowsiness or unresponsiveness
  • Seizures (fits)

“These symptoms can appear in any order. You do not always get all the symptoms,” the health body adds.

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