It is every parent's worst nightmare; their child has a fever, flu-like symptoms and the beginnings of a rash, so they call their GP.
But it's the weekend and the doctor providing cover dismisses their concerns; hours later their youngster is rushed to hospital with meningitis.
Extreme though this scenario might sound, new research has shown that half of all children suffering from meningitis are sent home by doctors on the first consultation. According to Anthony Harnden, a lecturer in general practice at the University of Oxford's department of primary health care, youngsters' lives are being placed at risk because too many doctor consultations are carried out over the phone or by inexperienced clinicians.
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