A paramedic has been disciplined following the death of a teenage girl from meningitis.
The paramedic took 40 minutes to call an ambulance to Stephanie Bussey’s Dersingham home after the 13-year-old collapsed in February.
Four days later, she died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
Claims were made during the inquest, which was held in Lynn on Monday, that the unnamed paramedic smoked a cigarette with the girl’s mother.
East of England Ambulance Service has carried out an investigation and disciplined the paramedic.
A statement from the ambulance service said: “Following this tragic incident, we carried out an internal investigation.
“The first paramedic on scene arrived in four minutes and carried out an initial assessment but clearly the patient’s condition deteriorated quickly and an ambulance should have been with her more quickly.
“The paramedic has been subject to disciplinary proceedings and supportive learning.”
Stephanie’s mother Joanne Sanpher dialled 999 at 12.07pm and a paramedic in a rapid response car arrived within four minutes.
But the medic decided her symptoms “were social rather than clinic and of a mundane nature”. Stephanie was not showing any typical symptoms of meningitis.
He smoked a cigarette and called an ambulance 41 minutes after arriving.
The ambulance arrived at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital at 1.31pm.
Stephanie’s condition swiftly deteriorated and she went into cardiac arrest.
Doctors resuscitated her and transferred her to Addenbrooke’s Hospital but tragically she died on February 4 from bacterial meningitis.
Norfolk Coroner Jacqueline Lake recorded a verdict of death by natural causes during the inquest but recommended the ambulance trust improve meningitis training.
She also called for all response crews to carry blood lactate equipment to test for meningitis.
Mrs Lake also urged them to consider more refresher training on the disease and suggested more experienced paramedics attend recognised paediatric courses.
The trust says in a statement: “There is currently no blood lactate equipment that has been fully validated for pre-hospital or ambulance use, although there are some encouraging trials ongoing in the country. We are monitoring these trials and have developed a proposal, which is being considered by our commissioners, to fund a specialist training course for our paramedics – paediatric education for pre-hospital professionals.”
Ms Sanpher has insisted she was not a smoker.
She said: “I did not have a cigarette with the paramedic. He came out here and had one himself, something which shouldn’t have happened.
“This isn’t just about the cigarette, it’s about my poor daughter and the fact it took two hours to get her to a hospital.
“Of course I am angry. But now I want some peace.
“Our lives have been turned upside down by this and my other children have been greatly affected by what has happened.”