Parents criticise death inquiry

THE family of a Gorleston teenage mum say questions remain unanswered about her death despite an internal inquiry which reported its recommendations this week.

THE family of a Gorleston teenage mum say questions remain unanswered about her death despite an internal inquiry which reported its recommendations this week.

Michael and Janice Secker said more should have been done by Ipswich-based out-of-hours medical service Take Care Now (TCN) to help their daughter Clare, 19, who died of bronchial pneumonia in December last year, three days after she was advised to take paracetamol and drink plenty of fluids for flu.

This week, in a statement, Dr Chris Price, medical director of NHS Great Yarmouth, announced a series of recommendations to improve the service including recording all calls and giving clearer instructions about what to do should the patient's condition deteriorate.

And in a letter to Mr and Mrs Secker seen by the Mercury, he criticised the James Paget University Hospital for failing to take samples at the post mortem that could have determined whether Clare's illness had been caused by a type of Streptococcus which mimics flu but is often fatal even if people are admitted to hospital immediately.

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He also noted that TCN had not received a copy of an important letter explaining there had been some cases locally.

Dr Price said: “We have now completed an extensive investigation into the circum-stances surrounding Clare's death and have made a number of recommendations to improve the service offered to all of our patients.

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“These include giving anyone who cannot travel to the out-of-hours base the opportunity to have a telephone consultation with a doctor and ensuring all calls to the out-of-hours service are tape recorded. We will also be making sure that out-of-hours staff give clearer instructions to people using the service about what to do should the patients' condition deteriorate.

“We are continuing to work closely with Take Care Now, which provides our out-of-hours service, to make sure these recommendations are followed in the future.

He added: “We would like to take this opportunity to again express our condolences to Clare's family for their sad loss.”

Speaking from their Sussex Road home, Clare's parents said they were still not satisfied with the findings of the health authority and would be taking legal advice from solicitors.

Mr Secker, 52, said: “I still feel they could have done a lot more. This should not have happened and we don't want to see any other family go through this.”

Clare, a former pupil of Oriel High School, had worked in the Piccolo Restaurant on Beach Road, Gorleston, and had been described by her family, including sister Faye and brothers Ben and Bill, as a “loving, caring girl with a heart of gold” and “a wonderful mum”.

Her son Tyler, one, is now in the care of his grandparents, and Mr Secker said: “He still crawls around the floor calling for his mum, but we will make sure he knows how lovely she was.”

Gary Nicholson, pathology manager at the James Paget University Hospital, said: “The patient's death came under coronial law and therefore a coroner's post mortem was required to establish the cause of death. The post mortem was conducted in accordance with the coroner's requirements.”

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