Chesterfield girl, 4, died of meningococcal infection hours after being sent home from hospital, inquest hears

Gracie Ella Foster.
Gracie Ella Foster.

A heartbroken Chesterfield mum has told of the tragic moment her four-year-old daughter died from a meningococcal infection just hours after being sent home from hospital.

Gracie Ella Foster, of Holland Road, Old Whittington, Chesterfield, passed away on October 21, 2015, at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

Gracie Ella Foster.

Gracie Ella Foster.

Just hours earlier, the youngster had been at Chesterfield Royal Hospital to have her enlarged tonsils removed - but the routine operation was cancelled when she fell unwell while on the ward.

Gracie was sent home with what her mum Michelle was told was a viral infection - but the little girl's condition deteriorated and she died at the children's hospital the same day after being rushed there by her grandmother.

Speaking at an ongoing inquest at Chesterfield Coroners' Court, a tearful Ms Foster, said: "When I carried her away from hospital I thought she was alright but I took her away to die basically."

The court heard that Gracie had been booked in to have her enlarged tonsils removed at the Royal hospital on October 21, 2015.

Her mum said that on the morning of the operation her daughter was her 'normal chatty self' and was 'excited to be doing something different' from school.

When they arrived at the Royal hospital Gracie was in good spirits despite being a 'bit nervous' and wanted to watch TV and read some books.

According to Ms Foster, the first sign of anything being wrong was when Gracie complained that the TV volume was 'too loud' which she said was 'strange'.

Later on Gracie let out a 'loud whinge' while in the playroom. Ms Foster said it seemed like she was 'sedated' and she complained of a sore throat.

The little girl then went on to vomit her pre-operation medication and she had a high temperature, recorded as 40.1.

An anaesthetist at the Royal hospital then told Ms Foster that Gracie's operation would be cancelled but did not carry out any further medical checks, Ms Foster claimed.

After a wait of around 90 minutes, Dr Tim Ubhi, a consultant paediatrician at the Royal, then checked Gracie's tonsils and said she had a virus infection and that she did not need antibiotics and that they could go home. No further health checks were made, Ms Foster said.

Dr Ubhi will give evidence on Tuesday.

Ms Foster, believing Gracie was not that ill after being given the go-ahead to leave the hospital, took her daughter to her grandmother's in Dronfield, which had been pre-planned, while she went to her son's school disco.

But Gracie's condition deteriorated and she continued to vomit and her grandmother found two non-blanching spots on her body and so rushed her to Sheffield Children's Hospital.

Michelle said: "The next phone call I got my mum said that she (Gracie) has crashed and that the crash team had got her. I could not comprehend what that meant. It was shocking to hear that. I thought that she was really poorly and that she had a virus infection."

On arriving at the hospital, Michelle recalled: "That was the biggest shock of my life to see her like that...to see all the tubes. She was absolutely covered in a purple rash. It did not look like her at all. I could not understand how this had gone on. At that point I thought they would still make her better because I still fully trusted hospitals to make her better. I feel really stupid."

She added: "I did not find out until after that there was nothing they could have done when she got there and I was thinking she was going to be fine."

The court heard that three weeks before, Gracie's school had sent out a letter to parents informing them that a child had meningitis but Ms Foster said that Gracie was in a different part of the school from the boy so would not come into contact with him.

Unfortunately Gracie could not be saved and passed away at Sheffield Children's Hospital just after 10.30pm.

A post mortem concluded that Gracie died of Waterhouse-Friderichsen syndrome, meningococcaemia and neisseria meningitidis infection.

The inquest continues.