Ambulance chief apologises after Dersingham girl’s death

Stephanie Sanpher
Stephanie Sanpher
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An ambulance chief has apologised after crews took two hours to get a 13-year-old girl with meningitis to hospital.

Stephanie Sanpher, 13, died of bacterial meningitis in Addenbrookes Hospital on Tuesday after collapsing at her Dersingham home on Friday.

But her mother Joanne says more could have been done to save her life - she made a 999 call at 12.07pm but the youngster did not arrive at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital until 2.03pm.

The ambulance service says an investigation is being launched and that a rapid response car arrived at the family’s home within four minutes of the initial call. But the ambulance did get to the scene until 1.31pm.

Joanne says by the time the ambulance arrived terrified Stephanie, who had epilepsy, was critically ill and medics at hospital could not save her.

She said: “They didn’t help her in time and that left her brain damaged.

“The hospital did a great job, but it was too late by the time she got to the hospital. She was already brain damaged.”

Stephanie did not go into Hunstanton’s Smithdon High School on Friday last week after suffering from a sore throat and had red marks on her body.

Her mum called the ambulance after the youngster began to vomit.

Dr Anthony Marsh, East of England Ambulance Service Chief Executive, said: “We’re extremely saddened to hear that Stephanie died following her collapse last Friday, and send the family our condolences. Our first paramedic on scene did everything possible we would expect from an initial response, but clearly Stephanie’s condition deteriorated and an ambulance should have been with her more quickly, for which we apologise.

“The trust is in the process of recruiting 400 student paramedics and has taken immediate steps to increase ambulance cover in Norfolk.”