Dersingham virus death girl had a two-hour ambulance wait

Stephanie Sanpher
Stephanie Sanpher
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Ambulance chiefs have apologised to the family of a teenage girl for the two-hour wait to get her to hospital.

Stephanie Sanpher, 13, had to wait 84 minutes for an ambulance to arrive after collapsing at her Dersingham home. She sadly succumbed to bacterial meningitis on Tuesday last week.

Her mother Joanne made a 999 call just after midday on January 31 but the youngster did not make it to Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital until 2.03pm.

Chief executive Dr Anthony Marsh has apologised the family and an investigation has been launched into the call.

A rapid response vehicle arrived four minutes after the initial call but an ambulance did not make it to Stephanie until 1.31pm.

Her mum Joanne says by the time the ambulance arrived terrified Stephanie, who had epilepsy, was critically ill and medics could not help her.

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

Year 9 pupil 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.

Stephanie was initially treated at the Lynn hospital before being transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital by the Children’s Acute Transport service from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

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

Joanne, 36, has also paid tribute to Stephanie.

She said: “We loved her so much. She was absolutely our world. She was the most kind and understanding girl.

“She never judged anybody, was just an angel and no trouble.

“She was one of those girls that everybody loves. She could go into a room full of strangers and they would immediately take to her.”

Last week, headteacher Jon Goodchild paid tribute to Stephanie.

He said: “Stephanie was a kind and caring girl.

“Staff and pupils remember her beautiful singing voice and really valued her friendship; she was often the one who would bring a smile to friends’ faces when they needed cheering up, and try to make things better.

“We are all so very sad and our thoughts are with Stephanie’s family; we can only offer them our most sincere sympathy, love and support.”

Norfolk County Council’s critical incident team has been at the school.

West Norfolk is covered by seven ambulances.

Dr Marsh 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.”