Doctor at Rugby School 'Too Busy' to Help Girl Killed by Meningitis Bug

Article excerpt

Byline: Andy Dolan

THE doctor at Rugby School was 'too busy' to attend a sick pupil who later died of blood poisoning, an inquest heard yesterday.

Clementine Nicholson, 17, was found seriously ill in her room at the [pounds sterling]24,000-a-year school after she failed to turn up for breakfast.

But the hearing heard that a housemistress spent 15 minutes repeatedly asking the school medic to assess her before calling an ambulance when she realised he was not going to attend.

Giving evidence, Carlien Shelly said she discovered the boarder, known as Clemie, in bed with a temperature of 102F and suffering from agonising joint pain in May last year.

Miss Shelly made three calls to summon Dr Peter Kilvert, who was just 400 yards away in the school's sanatorium, but said she was 'annoyed' when a nurse told her he was too busy.

She called an ambulance to the school in Warwickshire around 15 minutes later, when she realised that Clemie's condition was deteriorating.

The A-level student was taken to University Hospital in Coventry, but died the next day of meningococcal septicaemia -blood poisoning caused by the same type of bacteria that causes meningitis.

Miss Shelly said: 'I requested assistance to help Clemie. Her feet were a strange colour when I went in (her room). She complained about her feet straight away. In the ambulance I made sure people were aware of it.'

Andrew Axon, representing Clemie's parents, Sarah and Douglas, told the inquest Dr Kilvert had been 'simply too busy' to make the two-minute walk to Clemie's room.

He said that Miss Shelly had made three separate calls asking for the doctor to attend to the teenager, and challenged suggestions the second call was part of an 'ongoing dialogue as opposed to a request for a doctor'.

But the school nurse, sister Jeanette Patrick, denied that she had refused to send Dr Kilvert to see Clemie.

She said: 'My recollection is that there wasn't a doctor's request. That request wasn't put to me like that. I had the message that Clemie wasn't well.'

Clemie's distraught mother told the inquest at Coventry Magistrates Court that she was anxious about how medical emergencies were dealt with at the 1,100-pupil school.

In a statement read out on the first day of the inquest, she said: 'I have concerns over the management of medical conditions at Rugby School, and the guidance of staff at Rugby School.'

Mrs Nicholson also raised questions over the paramedics' assessment of Clemie and the delays in her treatment when she reached hospital. …