Meningitis & septicaemia in children and adults 2015
Meningitis Research Foundation held its tenth annual conference at the Royal Society of Medicine in London this week. This impressive gathering of clinicians and healthcare professionals from across the world, leaders in the field of clinical management, public health, vaccination and immunology spent two days exchanging information and debating issues arising in the battle to reduce the incidence of meningitis both in the UK and more widely.
For those of us practising in the clinical negligence field, we are familiar with the excellent work done by MRF in supporting those who have suffered from meningococcal disease and in particular, the families of children living with the effects of the illness. Perhaps less well known to lawyers and their clients is the massive contribution made by MRF to research and development in relation to both prevention and treatment of the disease. Since the Foundation was set up 26 years ago MRF has funded 147 research grants to the tune of £18m, a key factor in driving forward improved understanding of this group of devastating diseases.
Of particular interest to those based in the UK was Dr Fiona McGill’s presentation setting out the current position regarding production of new guidelines on the treatment of acute meningitis and meningococcal sepsis in adults, due to be published before the end of the year. Key to the efficacy of those guidelines is the dissemination of their content and even their existence, with troubling anecdotal evidence during the course of the day, indicating a high degree of ignorance of the requisite standards amongst those operating on the front line of clinical practice.
The conference did not dwell on the successes of 2015 but it should not be forgotten that MRF has been instrumental in driving through the implementation of both the UK infant immunisation programme for serogroup B meningococcal disease, commencing in September of this year and the vaccination schedule for serogroups A,C,W and Y for teenagers in August 2015. A lively debate on the merits of introducing the group B vaccine for 14 year olds produced a close to even split for and against amongst a knowledgeable audience, highlighting the fact that there are no easy answers in this field of healthcare.
The event should not pass without reference to the retirement of Chris Head as CEO of MRF after 8 years in post. Many have benefitted from Chris’ calm guidance and quiet determination in advancing the interests of MRF and those who benefit from its activities and we wish him well in his new role.
If you or your family have been affected by meningitis or septicaemia and are concerned by the treatment received contact our helpline on 0800 3168892