This system is inadequate

I WOULD like to commiserate with Josh’s parents (Gazette, April 14) as it is rare now to lose one’s baby and it must hurt dreadfully.

However, it is one of the most difficult things in medicine to diagnose meningitis and although you have again printed the warning symptoms, they are seen in so many complaints, from the heavy cold through flu to most childhood infections.

The only true way to check is to do a spinal puncture and test for the infection and that has its own risks.

We as doctors are not infallible and we do always try our best. So it is sad when these things go wrong that there is a presumption of incompetence. However, that apart, I have not been happy about the after hours service since the beginning of this millennium and I am sure we head for many disasters that used to be prevented by our own GP practices in the past.

The members in those days could have a changing timetable so they got time with their families and it seemed to work. My own use of this service, and in the case of grandchildren, has been unsatisfactory and even professionals dealing with their own children have talked to me about its inadequacies.

It is certainly ridiculous having to wait for a visit from Newcastle in very quick-changing emergencies and it is high time this was changed before there are more disasters.

I do hope our MP can take this up in Westminster, as the whole country suffers from this dreadful weekend service.

Anne Wrangham MBBS