Norwich family take meningitis message to parliament

The Norwich family of a four-year-old who contracted meningococcal septicaemia, travelled to Westminster this week as part of a campaign.

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 (the blood poisoning form of the disease).

The Matthews family live in Bacton Road, Mile Cross, and mum Vicky, dad Brian, and children Thomas and Grace, all travelled to London as part of the campaign.

Mrs Matthews said: 'Our daughter Grace was just four-years-old when she contracted Group B meningococcal septicaemia in January this year.

'She was rushed to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and then spent nine weeks in Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. Luckily, she survived, but lost both of her legs below the knee, all of the fingers and half the thumb on her left hand and half the palm of her right hand.

'My family and I are 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.' Meningitis Matters campaigners met with their local MPs in Parliament to state that changes to the NHS must not negatively impact on 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.

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Although progress has been made over the past decade in introducing vaccines, not all parents are aware that the most common cause, Meningococcal Group B, cannot be prevented by any currently available meningitis vaccines.

Mrs Matthews said campaigners had also been persuading MPs to sign up to an Early Day Motion so that if and when a vaccine for Meningococcal Group B becomes available, red tape can be stripped back and it can be fast-tracked into use.