The mum has spoke of her frustration at struggling to get her daughter seen by a doctor despite her suffering from a horrific rash over her entire body.
Rachel Wall spent days in a state of panic as four-year-old Mimi’s rash worsened by each passing hour – eventually raising the skin from her scalp to her toes.
Mimi, from Illogan, Redruth, suffered no known allergies when the rash first appeared – leaving the family baffled by what it could be.
But when they called NHS 111 for help, they were told to call a GP instead – before then being told the rash was nothing to worry about.
Eventually, when Mimi was finally checked – she was found to be allergic to penicillin, which had been administered to her in antibiotics weeks before.
The allergy can potentially be fatal.
Describing how the rash first began and the frustrating process to get her seen, mum Rachel said: “I checked on her at 12.30am, and half 2.
“It was getting worse, but her breathing and temperature were okay.”
By the early hours of the morning, Mimi had developed the “most horrendous rash” her mother had ever seen, with swelling getting worse by the hour all over her body.
“I called 111 because of the swelling,” she said.
“I was told not to go to A&E, but to call the GP instead.”
Ms Wall described her battle in vain to get her daughter seen by a doctor.
She called her local surgery, where she was put in touch with a paramedic who told her it could be “any number of thousands” of viral infections after hearing the child had been on antibiotics the previous week – and that she should wait to see if it got worse.
At the time, Mimi’s entire body had swollen up. A rash had raised the skin almost entirely from scalp to under her feet.
Ms Wall added Mimi’s swelling was joining up, and she was getting more and more worried.
She continued: “I asked if Mimi should be seen, and he said no, as she was an otherwise healthy child – aside from the rash.
“I have a friend who’s a GP who said it was the worst she’d ever seen.”
The paramedic told Ms Wall to take Mimi to A&E, or to call 999, if she went blue or “floppy”, and suggested it could be measles.
This worried the family, and led to another panicked call a few days later. As Mimi’s rash and swelling got more extreme, she told her surgery that she wanted to see a doctor about the worsening symptoms and concerns about it being contagious.
“The receptionist told us she’d speak to a doctor and that we’d receive a text,” Ms Wall continued.
The text they received, she said, said a doctor had reviewed Mimi’s notes and determined it wasn’t contagious.
A few days later, Ms Wall went to a local pharmacy to pick up a generic anti-allergy treatment for her daughter, whose condition was not getting any better.
After asking the pharmacist for some advice, they asked her to see the pictures.
“I showed them the pictures,” Ms Wall said, “And they immediately asked if Mimi had taken antibiotics recently.
“I explained that yes she had, and that it was penicillin. The pharmacist said she must be allergic to that and that she was shocked the doctors didn’t pick it up.”
Mimi’s swelling, it turned out, was due to a reaction to penicillin, the most commonly used antibiotics.
Reactions range from rashes to bad swelling to anaphylaxis – which can be fatal.
After finding out about the missed diagnosis, Ms Wall contacted the GP to get this on her daughter’s record and to make a formal complaint.
“A few weeks after,” she said, “I received a letter response.”
“In the letter, they blamed everyone else for what happened.”
Dated September 3, the two-page letter begins: “We apologise for the delay in responding to your complaint. Due to significant demands on our services replying to complaints is taking longer than we would hope.
“Firstly, I am sorry for our perceived failings. Any complaint received plays heavily on us as clinicians; we aim to do the best that we can with the resources afforded to us.
“We take all feedback seriously and we discuss all feedback at meetings with all clinicians to gain learning opportunities.”
The letter states Mimi would have been seen if there was “any indication” her airway was being affected by the reaction – but Ms Wall queried how the surgery would have known this without seeing the
four-year-old in person.
Ms Wall pointed out the letter also states she told the receptionist, on her second call, that she was worried about contagion – and not about Mimi’s worsening swelling.
The letter further said the GP had 170 calls on the day this call happened.
“I am sorry that you feel we are fobbing patients off,” the GP said in the letter, “In fact we are using our ever depleted resources in the face of significantly increased pressures on our services to meet the ends of patients in the best way possible to keep patients safe and dealt with in a timely fashion. “
The letter finishes with a hope Mimi recovered fully – which, thankfully, she did.
Ms Wall said the response shocked her, and made her feel more like she had been fobbed off.
“I did say I was worried it’s contagious,” she said, “But I also said I want to see a doctor and worried it’s getting worse. They’re blaming the receptionist, you should have thought that’s really bad.
“Mimi’s four, her ears, eyes, lips were all swollen. She had a rash covering her scalp to the bottom of her foot. If It wasn’t for the chance I’d gone to the pharmacy that day we’d have never known.
“And if she went to hospital again, they might have given her penicillin again. It could have been so much worse.
“It left an imprint of the rash on her body which can take up to six weeks to go. It’s a reaction. It left a mottled rash imprint on her back.
“They keep saying ‘we’re not seeing you’. You should be able to see our doctor. It’s disgusting.
“A child, a vulnerable person, should be able to see her doctor. It made me so angry.”
A spokesperson for Carn to Coast Health centres, which runs the family’s local surgery, said: “We cannot comment on individual cases without breaching patient confidentiality.
“When any complaint is received, we treat it most seriously and respond appropriately.”