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Issue 342 – Local mum to call on MP to protect meningitis care in NHS reforms

A mum from Frome whose son contracted meningitis when he was four years old, is due to meet her local MP, David Heath, in Westminster as part of a campaign to ensure that meningitis remains a top health priority in the NHS reforms.

The Meningitis Matters campaign has been prompted by fears that the radical NHS reforms may destabilise progress that has been made to control meningitis and septicaemia. New research shows that 81% of parents in the South West rated meningitis as one of their most feared infectious diseases for their child.
Pauline Knowles said, “Meningitis left my son, Nigel, with permanent and serious brain damage resulting in blindness, muscle spasms, poor concentration and poor short-term memory. I was told that if his meningitis symptoms had been recognised and diagnosed earlier he probably would not have suffered serious, if any, brain damage. I am thankful for his survival, but his life has been made difficult by the brain damage that resulted.
“I am backing the Meningitis Matters campaign to make sure that meningitis care does not become overlooked within the NHS reforms and to ensure that other families in the UK don’t have to face what we have been through.”
With bacterial meningitis and septicaemia affecting around 3,400 individuals in the UK each year, Meningitis Matters campaigners will meet with their local MPs in Parliament this week to state that changes to the NHS must not negatively impact how these diseases are currently managed.
Meningitis and septicaemia are easily misdiagnosed, can kill within hours of the first symptoms appearing and may cause serious, life-long disabilities, despite appropriate treatment.
Although progress has been made over the last decade in introducing vaccines onto the national childhood immunisation schedule, children are not currently protected against all causes of meningitis and septicaemia.
The Meningitis Matters campaign is being spearheaded by the Meningitis Research
Foundation and supported by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited. Chris Head, CEO of MRF said, “Despite the progress in vaccination, many parents are unaware that their children are currently not fully protected against all strains of these diseases. This campaign provides practical recommendations to politicians to ensure that meningitis and septicaemia remain at the heart of public health and calls on the public to remain vigilant of the signs and symptoms of these diseases.”

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