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Hospital made 'gross failures' over death of schoolboy

A Merthyr hospital made 'gross failures' over the death of a schoolboy who was given headache tablets instead of antibiotics for meningitis, a coroner has ruled.

13-year-old Thomas Smith died in May 2013 Credit: Wales News

Talented football player Thomas Smith, from Hednesford in Staffordshire was taken to Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil complaining of six tell-tale signs of meningitis including a headache and a stiff neck.

An inquest heard doctors failed to diagnose the illness and start treatment with antibiotics for more than four hours. Thomas, who had been on a family holiday to Wales, never recovered from the infection and later died at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff on his birthday.

A coroner has now criticised the hospital, for failing the schoolboy in their duty of care.

Coroner Christopher Woolley said:

"The failure to administer antibiotics does amount to a gross failure of care.

"Antibiotics should have been given without delay.

"Where meningitis is suspected, it's essential antibiotics are given immediately. The need for basic medical attention in this form was obvious."

Mr Woolley said he was concerned about 'further deaths' at Prince Charles Hospital and ordered a report.

But he said it was not a case of 'neglect' and even if Thomas had been given antibiotics he would probably have still died.He recorded a conclusion of natural causes.