Linda Glennie, Head of Research at MRF said, “We are delighted to be involved in this important research. Meningitis and septicaemia are deadly diseases that strike without warning and leave a third of survivors with life altering after effects. Rapid identification and treatment provides the best chance of survival and we look forward to supporting the study investigators to find out what needs to change in order to prevent tragedies like those of William and Sam in future."
Data for this study will be collected from the catchment areas of the hospitals participating in the study.
The project has three strands – the first will look at the health services available to parents in each area, and review investigations into previous cases of serious infection - including child death reviews, critical incident reports, and hospital and ambulance usage data.
The next will involve specially trained nurses identifying parents of children being cared for in high dependency or intensive care with a serious infection.
Once their child is well enough to move to a children’s ward, the parents will be approached to take part in the study, and interviewed once their child is home again. With parent’s permission, health professionals involved in their child’s pre-hospital care will be interviewed separately, to get a fuller understanding of the child’s journey to hospital.
The final strand will involve focus groups with parents whose child had a serious infectious illness in the last two years, as well as separate focus groups with health care professionals who’ve had experience of caring for such children.
All of this data will be combined to produce a theory which explains how identified factors affect the point at which ill children are admitted to hospital.
The BeArH study has received £147,000 funding from the NIHR, the research arm of the NHS, and will run until May 2019.
The other partners contributing to the research are the Kettering General Hospital, Leicester’s Hospitals, Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust, University of Leicester, University of Liverpool, Edge Hill University, Meningitis Now and the Mother’s Instinct support group.
Several other charities are also supporting the research, including MRF, the UK Sepsis Trust, WellChild and the Encephalitis Society.
Findings from this project will identify how services need to change. The next project will work with parents and health services to make these changes and evaluate the impact.