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Issue 344 – Mum calls on MP to protect meningitis care in NHS reform

A mum from Frome has met with local MP David Heath in Westminster as part of a campaign to ensure meningitis vaccination and care remains a top health priority in the NHS reform.

Pauline Knowles, from Frome, met David Heath in Westminster as part of the Meningitis Matters Campaign, which was prompted into action by fears that the radical NHS reforms may destabilise progress that has been made to control meningitis and septicaemia. It is a campaign which is close to her heart as Pauline’s son, Nigel, contracted the infectious disease when he was just four years old.
Pauline said, “It’s important that meningitis remains a top priority within the NHS. There was not a vaccination for Nigel when he contracted meningitis but in the future, there could well be.
“Myself and Nigel, along with the chief executive of the Meningitis Research Foundation, Chris Head, spoke with David Heath.
“He was incredibly receptive and supportive and clearly understood the importance of making sure that meningitis remained as a priority for the NHS.
“David told me that he would liaise with Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health, to move this forward. There is nothing that will change what happened to Nigel, but if we can change the children in the future, that’s got to be a good thing.”
MP for Somerton and Frome David Heath commented, “I shall be talking to the Secretary of State for Health about this soon.
“Many years ago, I worked for the Meningitis Trust and I am convinced that it is a condition that needs to be combatted. A lot of progress has been made over the years with new vaccines coming in that have virtually eradicated types of meningitis.
“It would be folly to not keep this as a top priority for the NHS.”
Bacterial meningitis and septicaemia affects around 3,400 individuals in the UK each year. 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.
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.”
Pictured: David Heath MP (centre) with Pauline and Nigel Knowles.

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