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Coroner criticises doctor after meningitis death.

A six-year-old girl died after a doctor missed a "classic indicator" that she had meningitis, an inquest heard.

The child, Layla Rose Ermenekli, was taken to Royal Oldham Hospital with a high temperature, leg and stomach pains and an indicative rash on her hip, and died eight hours later.

An A&E clinician, Dr Harsha Rajanna, said he asked her mother, Kirsty Ermenekli, about the hip mark and was told she bumped into a table. Mrs Ermenekli said the conversation never happened.

Coroner, Lisa Hashmi, who recorded a narrative verdict, ruled that Layla died after suffering a cardiac arrest and multi-organ failure brought on by meningococcal sepsis.

She described Dr Harsha Rajanna’s account of his role in Layla-Rose’s care as “completely unreliable” and said he had been “less than honest” with medical colleagues.

Other medics later said that the child was suffering from one of the worst cases of meningitis they had seen.

The coroner told the inquest in Heywood that delays in the youngster being assessed meant that an opportunity to stop the deadly cascade of sepsis spreading through her body was likely to have been missed.

When the child was finally seen, almost two hours after she should have been, a “barely perfunctory” examination from a doctor saw a tell-tale rash misdiagnosed as a bruise, the coroner added.

After the verdict, Layla Rose’s mother, Kirsty Ermenekli, of Oldham, who is campaigning to have the vaccination for the B strain of the disease given free of charge for all children, said: “I never thought I could be more heartbroken but today has confirmed I can be. I hurt more now knowing she could be here and it could have been prevented. That she was failed far more than I thought.

“It is so important to recognise the early signs, they call it the golden hour, before sepsis gets into the blood.

“Parents know best: completely nag even if you feel like a paranoid parent. Don’t feel pushed back just because the doctors are professionals.”

Meningitis can easily be mistaken for flu or a hangover in adults, but knowing the signs can prove life-saving. The disease can affect anyone, but is most common in babies, young children and young adults.

Meningitis causes an inflammation of the membranes that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord and can be triggered by bacteria or a virus.

If it is not treated quickly, meningitis can develop into deadly septicaemia, or blood poisoning, that can cause permanent damage to the brain or nerves.

Around 3,200 people a year are diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and one in 10 die or are left with life-changing disabilities. Viral forms of meningitis are less common and rarely life-threatening.

Key symptoms of the disease are a high fever of more than 37.5 degrees, vomiting, a headache, a blotchy rash that won’t fade when a glass is rolled over it; stiffness, especially in the neck; drowsiness, irritability or a lack of energy, cold hands and feet, and seizures.

In children, the main symptoms are: refusing to eat, being agitated and not wanting to be picked up; a bulging soft spot on their head, being floppy and unresponsive, an unusual, high-pitched cry and a having a stiff body