Call for MPs to ensure NHS reforms do not hinder meningitis progress

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CAMPAIGNERS are urging MPs to ensure progress against meningitis remains unaffected by radical NHS reforms.

Around 3,400 people in the UK each year develop bacterial meningitis and septicaemia which can be easily misdiagnosed. Around one in 10 die and a quarter are left with lifelong disabilities.

Major public health campaigns including a new vaccine for one strain of the illness have reduced the death toll but the Meningitis Matters campaign led by the Meningitis Research Foundation is demanding it remains a priority in the face of sweeping NHS reforms.

Nikki Lee-Clarke, of Ledston, near Castleford, yesterday joined a lobby of MPs at Westminster to urge efforts to tackle the disease are maintained. Her daughter Alicia was 11 when she became critically ill with meningococcal septicaemia, requiring transfer for treatment in Liverpool due to a shortage of intensive care beds.

She said: “Fortunately she made a full recovery and this summer achieved 5 A*s and 4 As in her GCSEs, proving that people who do have meningitis can go on to live successful lives.

“My family and I are backing the Meningitis Matters campaign to make sure 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.”

Chris Head, of the Meningitis Research Foundation, said: “Despite 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.”

The campaign demands vaccines are introduced as soon as they become available, and health workers trained to identify the illness.