Suffolk

Oliver Hall inquest: Meningitis 'like a speeding car' in six-year-old

Oliver Hall Image copyright Hall family
Image caption Oliver Hall died less than 24 hours after contracting meningitis B

A six-year-old boy who died from meningitis might have survived with quicker diagnosis, an inquest heard.

Oliver Hall, of Halesworth, Suffolk, died the day after he began showing symptoms in October 2017.

His parents called their GP surgery, paramedics and the 111 service but by the time he was taken to hospital the infection was like a speeding vehicle, an expert told the court.

The inquest in Ipswich is expected to last three to five days.

Prof Nigel Klein, an expert in infectious diseases and immunology, said he believed Oliver, known as Ollie, "would have survived without a problem" if hospital doctors had made a quick diagnosis and given him treatment.

But, he added, as minutes became critical "the car was already going so fast, I don't think anything would have put the brakes on".

Image copyright Hall family
Image caption The progress of the infection in Oliver Hall was like a speeding car, said an expert

His parents Georgie and Bryan said Ollie began feeling ill with a headache, sore jaw and a high temperature on October 23.

Mrs Hall called the Cutlers Hill Surgery in Halesworth at 09:50 BST and was told the first available appointment would be at 15:50.

Later, as Ollie became sensitive to light and rashes appeared on his body, she called the NHS helpline on 111 and an ambulance arrived with two paramedics.

Image caption Bryan and Georgie Hall have campaigned for widespread meningitis vaccinations since Oliver's death

They did not think Ollie had meningitis, having rolled a glass over his rash to see if it disappeared.

Two GPs who eventually saw him at the surgery were also not convinced and he was sent home.

When he deteriorated further that evening, his family drove him to James Paget University Hospital at Gorleston, 45 minutes away, as no ambulance was available.

He died in the early hours of the next morning.

Mrs Hall said she had felt rushed out of the surgery and as if she had been wasting the doctors' time.

She thought the rashes had not been checked thoroughly enough, she added.

"If the GPs had said it could be meningitis we would have done things much sooner," she said.

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