Consett mum says state of NHS is frightening after it took 9 weeks for son to get Strep A diagnosis

Danielle Nash's son George initially became ill in October with a sore throat but his condition deteriorated to the point where he struggled to breathe Credit: ITV Tyne Tees News

A mother from County Durham said NHS waiting times give her "raging anxiety" after it took nine weeks for her six-year-old son to be diagnosed with Strep A.

Danielle Nash's son George, from Consett, initially became ill around the 24 October with a sore throat.

After his condition continued to deteriorate his mum took him to the doctors where he was prescribed a short course of antibiotics.

Ms Nash said this improved his condition slightly - but after the antibiotics course was finished, he deteriorated again.

She then went back to the doctors and George was again prescribed a short course of antibiotics which led to the same result as his previous treatment.

The mother made several trips back to the doctors only to be prescribed short antibiotics courses that did not appear to improve her son's condition.

The mum waited nine weeks to get a diagnosis for her son Credit: ITV Tyne Tees news

Ms Nash said: "After the first time he got poorly I thought it was Scarlett fever but the doctor confirmed it was just a viral, which is why he had the short course of antibiotics, so I still had the Scarlett Fever in the back of my head.

"After a third lot of antibiotics, Strep A became a big topic and I started getting concerned, thinking 'actually has he got Strep A?'"

George had also developed a rash which was diagnosed as an allergic reaction to the type of antibiotics he had been prescribed.

Ms Nash said the doctor didn't swab George and gave him another short course of different antibiotics.

After seven weeks of struggling with the ongoing illness, George's condition deteriorated through the night and he was struggling to breathe.

  • George's condition had worsened through the night and he was struggling to breathe.

Ms Nash added: "He stayed in my bed and I was that concerned that I actually sat up and literally watched him sleeping because it was scary.

"It got to around 10pm and I rang 111 after getting advice from my sisters and my mum who both said 'I think you should ring 111'.

"We phoned 111 and George was settled, so by the time I got through to them it was quite some time.

"After going through all the assessments and everything, 111 said we're not sure what is going on, obviously you've been going back forth to the doctors and we're still not sure.

"We don't want to rule out meningitis so we did the glass test and everything and that was alright so they said we can't come to a conclusion of what's going on so we're going to call the out-of-hours emergency department to give you a call.

"George was settled at this point so I didn't want to wake him up."

Ms Nash says the experience has left her with anxiety Credit: ITV Tyne Tees News

Ms Nash said she got a call at around 2:30am by the emergency out-of-hours department and told them that because George was settled, she was happy to leave it till the morning.

At 8am the next morning, Ms Nash rang the doctor and asked if they could see George that day because his condition had worsened and he was struggling to breathe.

Five minutes later the doctors called her back to tell her George had Strep A

Ms Nash said: "I was like 'has he had strep A since October?' He's been ill for 7 weeks.

"I do believe he was ill all that time I think it would have started from Scarlett fever which he wasn't diagnosed with but he hasn't had the right dose of antibiotics to cover him.

"He's been backwards and forwards with five days (of antibiotics) here five days there.

"It's been worrying because there are children dying of Strep A and in this day and age people shouldn't be dying from little infections that get blown out of proportion and I just think it's so worrying."

  • Danielle Nash the NHS waiting times and pressures are "frightening".

Ms Nash said her experience throughout her son's illness has lessened her faith in the NHS and given her anxiety for the future.

She said: "The 111 call, that's when I started panicking because I thought it has taken them how many hours and how many minutes on the phone.

"What if we do have to go to hospital, how long are we going to be sitting in A&E with loads of other sick kids or sick people?

"I have raging anxiety over it. I worry about getting sick, I worry about my kids getting sick and I worry about my family getting sick because of the waiting times and the pressures.

"It is frightening, very frightening."

It comes as people are being warned that A&E, urgent care and ambulance services are still facing "extreme levels" of pressure.

Patients across the North East and North Cumbria are being told to only call 999 or visit A&E if their condition is a threat to life or limb.

Patients have been advised to expect long waits as services focus their attention on the most urgent cases.

Dr Neil O'Brien, executive medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB), said: "In common with the health and care system across the country, our A&E and ambulance services are under huge pressure.

"We are working hard to ensure that patients who need emergency care are seen as quickly as possible and are prioritising patient care as best we can, based on their need."

What is Strep A?

Strep A is a common type of bacteria and most Strep A infections are mild and easily treated, but some can be more serious.

Symptoms of strep A can include:

  • flu-like symptoms, such as a high temperature, swollen glands or an aching body

  • sore throat (strep throat or tonsillitis)

  • a rash that feels rough, like sandpaper (scarlet fever)

  • scabs and sores (impetigo)

  • pain and swelling (cellulitis)

  • severe muscle aches

  • nausea and vomiting

Most strep A infections are not serious and can be treated with antibiotics.

But rarely, the infection can cause serious problems. This is called invasive group A strep (iGAS).

The advice from the NHS if you think your child has Strep A is to trust your instincts as a parent knows better than anyone else what their child is usually like, so you'll know when something is seriously wrong.

The NHS advise calling 111 if:

  • your child is unwell and is getting worse

  • your child is feeding or eating much less than normal

  • your child has fewer wet nappies than usual or is peeing less than usual, or shows other signs of dehydration

  • your baby is under 3 months and has a temperature of 38C, or is 3 to 6 months and has a temperature of 39C or higher

  • your child is very tired or irritable

The NHS advise calling 999 if:

  • your child is having difficulty breathing – they may make grunting noises, or you may notice their tummy sucking under their ribs

  • there are pauses when your child breathes

  • your child’s skin, tongue or lips are blue or grey – on black or brown skin this may be easier to see on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet

  • your child is floppy and will not wake up or stay awake

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