Woman with meningitis and sepsis left waiting 11 hours in hospital corridor

  • Watch: Megan Fellowes tells ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw about her long hospital wait

A young woman from Kent says she feels “lucky to be alive” after waiting for 11 hours in a hospital corridor with untreated meningitis and sepsis.

Megan Fellowes, from Minster-on-Sea, was told by her GP to go straight to the emergency department after showing symptoms of the life-threatening conditions.

But she says staff at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham initially tried to send her home, before making her wait hours on a plastic chair without food, water or pain relief.

The NHS trust has said it always aims to provide “the best possible care” and would like to apologise “if we have fallen below this standard”.

The 22-year-old told ITV News Meridian: “I was left in that corridor for 11 hours before I was even seen. It was just awful. No one offered me a drink. They didn't ask if I wanted anything to eat. I was literally just sat in a chair.

“I kept asking nurses, ‘Can someone give me some paracetamol?’ And they said they couldn't, without doctors’ permission. It just got worse and the rash started to spread up my arms.”

Megan Fellowes’ tongue started to turn black, while a rash appeared on her hands and feet. Credit: Megan Fellowes

When she initially arrived at the Medway Maritime on Wednesday, 8th February, Megan says staff in the Accident and Emergency Department sent her to MedOCC, an on-site GP unit run by a third-party provider.

“The doctor came out and he basically laughed in my face… he said: ‘I don't see why you're here, you can go home’. And it was only when I took my shoe off and my whole foot was covered in this purple rash that he went to get a second opinion. They came in and said, ‘No, she needs to go back to A&E now. I think she's got meningitis’.”

Those concerns didn't stop Megan waiting for hours before she was seen by an A&E doctor. She was eventually diagnosed with meningitis and sepsis, along with several other conditions. She was so seriously ill she had to spend nine days in hospital.

Megan feels her delayed treatment put her life at risk: “It was horrendous. And I'm a mum to a three year old. That was the scariest part for me, I felt I was not going to be able to go home to my child.”

In February, Medway NHS Foundation Trust failed to meet the government target for 95 per cent of those attending emergency departments to be admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours.

That was the case for 58% of patients at Medway Maritime’s A&E, meaning 3,055 people had to wait for more than four hours, with the trust’s performance among the worst in Kent and Sussex.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust says it aims to provide patients with the best possible care.

Health groups are worried about the impact that long waits could be having on patient outcomes. Dr Ron Daniels, founder of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: “With sepsis it is time critical. For every hour we wait in getting lifesaving treatment into the patient, the chance of them surviving drops by one or two per cent.

“This really is a medical emergency. It's not just about surviving versus dying, it's also about the after effects [of delayed treatment].”

Megan Fellowes has since made a full recovery but says she would go out of her way to visit another hospital, if she fell ill again.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust and Medway Community Healthcare, which runs the MedOCC unit, provided the following statement: “Our aim is always to provide patients with the best possible care, and we would like to apologise if we have fallen below this standard.

“We would like to investigate Ms Fellowes’ concerns in more detail and would invite her to contact Medway NHS Foundation Trust and Medway Community Healthcare directly.”