‘Lifetime warning’ handed to doctor who treated teenager with meningitis
A Kirkcaldy mother gazes lovingly at a photograph of her son – a gift from his school and a treasured keepsake.
But Jennifer Smith has not been able to hang the picture of Gregor in her house in the town’s Dunnikier Estate, because the pain of losing her beloved boy suddenly and cruelly to meningitis just 18 months ago is still too raw.
Gregor (13) died in agony at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital where he was rushed by ambulance shortly after being seen by a doctor from the NHS out-of-hours service, who sent him home with a viral infection diagnosis.
And this week, after a report by the General Medical Council criticised Dr Bala Gundati for “conduct that does not meet with the standards required of a doctor” and issuing her with a lifetime warning, Mrs Smith (45), says she and her family blame the medic, who is now working at a Glenrothes practice specialising in female contraception, for not giving Gregor a chance of survival.
“We will never know if she had just sought a second opinion or kept him in for observation, if he would have had the chance to live. By not diagnosing him properly she took that chance away from him.”
Gregor was taken to see Dr Gundati at the hospital by his father George after a phonecall to NHS 24.
He had a temperature, was vomiting violently, appeared confused and had a bruise-like rash on his arms and body.
After a brief examination the doctor sent him home, saying he had a viral infection. Just an hour later his condition deteriorated and he was rushed to intensive care where he died later that day.
Mrs Smith, who is divorced from Gregor’s dad, said she had been told Gregor had been to the doctor then received a “frantic” phone call from Mr Smith saying he was being taken to hospital.
“I picked up Gregor’s sister who was at a pal’s and rushed down in time to see him coming out the ambulance. He was completely disorientated and had horrible bruising on his face,” said Mrs Smith.
“Within a few hours he was gone. We still can’t believe it.
“I feel that the doctor failed Gregor and failed us as a family. I was disgusted at the comment she made in a national newspaper that Gregor’s dad and I didn’t understand how it had affected her.
“We lost our son, and it could have been prevented, yet we have not received so much as an apology.
“Every day I see his pals at the shop and I look for him. I can’t contemplate never seeing him again. I feel numb inside and miss him every second of every day.”
School friends and former team mates of Gregor at Kirkcaldy United Football Club have raised over £20,000 for Meningitis Now in his memory.
The role of Meningitis Now
Formed in 2013 by bringing together Meningitis UK and Meningitis Trust, founders of the meningitis movement in the UK, the charity exists to save lives and rebuild futures by funding research, raising awareness and providing support.
It has a free 24-hour helpline on 0808 8010 388.
It provides a huge range of support services including: home visits, counselling and financial support grants.