Out-of-hours service Harmoni slammed in meningitis scare

IPSWICH: A terrified mother says she has been let down by out-of-hours medics for failing to respond to her fears she was losing her baby to meningitis.

Harmoni, the firm which provides the service in Suffolk, has launched an investigation into Friday’s incident in which Samantha Macey claims she was left waiting for a phone call from a doctor which never materialised.

Mrs Macey frantically called the out-of-hours number at 7.30am after spotting a rash on her 14-month-old daughter, Amber.

The tot had started feeling poorly earlier in the week with her condition gradually worsening.

On Thursday night, Mrs Macey left for work leaving husband Stephen, 52, with Amber and their three-year-old son, Callum.

She said when she arrived home on Friday morning, Amber’s condition had deteriorated – she was being sick and a rash had developed on her back.

Mrs Macey, a carer for people with learning disabilities, said: “She was showing all the signs of meningitis.

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“I was terrified so I called the emergency doctors number straight away.

“They asked me to do the glass test – I work in care and so I know exactly what that means.

“When I did the test the rash didn’t disappear and the lady on the phone said she would put me on the urgent list, telling me a doctor would call me back within ten minutes.

“It was the longest ten minutes of my life.”

But by 7.50am, some 20 minutes later, no one had been in contact prompting Mrs Macey, of Queen’s Way, to call the service back.

She was again told a doctor would be in touch but despite reassurances her daughter was on the urgent list, Mrs Macey said her call was never returned.

She said: “The service I received from Harmoni was absolutely diabolical.

“I feel so let down. The fact is she asked me to do the glass test and I know that means meningitis. If it had been that, I know how important it is to get to a doctor straight away.

“My daughter could have been getting worse, with a potentially life-threatening illness and no one was getting back to me.

“I could have lost her.”

The 32-year-old said son Callum was diagnosed with a severe kidney condition via the same service when it was run by Take Care Now (TCN).

Instead of waiting for a reply from Harmoni, Mrs Macey called her GP as well as Ipswich Hospital’s A&E department, who established Amber was not suffering from the killer brain disease.

“This could happen to another worried mother,” she added. “I know how awful I felt, I would not want anyone else to have to go through that.

“I was a mess, my children are my life.”

n Have you faced a similar problem? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or you can send your views by e-mail to us at: eveningstarletters@ eveningstar.co.uk

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