Strep A: Father warns he took daughter, 5, to hospital three times before she died
A grieving father has spoken of his desperate attempts to seek treatment for his daughter before she died of strep A.
Belfast schoolgirl Stella-Lily McCorkindale, five, became the ninth child to die from strep A in the UK as the outbreak causes increasing concern for parents.
Her father, Robert McCorkindale, told the Mirror that he brought Stella-Lily to A&E at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children three times before she was eventually admitted to the intensive care unit, shortly before she died.
Stella-Lily felt unwell with a cold and temperature on the weekend of 26 November, prompting the first visit on 28 November.
Mr McCorkindale said: "The doctor looked at me and said what was wrong and I said she is very sick. She then asked why did you bring her [Stella-Lily] here and I was like 'my daughter can't even walk' and I told them everything."
He said doctors sent his daughter home, insisting that "she just needed to be hydrated with Lucozade" – but she was taken in on 29 November for a second visit, when a doctor helped with hydration before she was sent back home.
However, Mr McCorkindale visited again the following day after his daughter told her mother that she felt like she was "dying".
He went on: "I shouted at them that we were not going anywhere until we saw a doctor."
After tests found that Stella-Lily had strep A, she was admitted into ICU but her health rapidly deteriorated.
Watch: What is strep A infection?
Mr McCorkindale added: "The A&E was disgraceful until that Wednesday. They did everything for her, they bent over backwards and there were doctors coming on their day off to try and help her."
Stella-Lily died on 5 December – just over a week since she started feeling unwell – having suffered brain damage while battling the infection.
A spokesman for Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children told Yahoo News UK: "We send our deepest condolences to the McCorkindale family following the passing of Stella-Lilly.
"Every aspect of the care Stella-Lilly received is being carefully reviewed. The death of a child is a heart-breaking event for family and friends and in such tragic circumstances we give the family space to grieve.
"Hospital management will be available to meet Stella-Lily's family at a time that suits them. Our thoughts are with them at this incredibly sad time."
Health secretary Steve Barclay has insisted that there is no shortage of antibiotics, as he urged parents to remain vigilant for signs of strep A.
Barclay said checks within the Department of Health had not revealed an issue with supply of the medicines after the National Pharmacy Association said there were "blips" in the supply chain of liquid penicillin, which is often given to children.
Barclay said the level of supply was "not a concern at the moment" but stock could be moved around if there was an issue with particular GPs getting supplies.
He told GB News: "We're in very close contact with our medical suppliers. They're under a duty to notify us if there are supply shortages. They have not done so as yet."
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has advised medics to have a low threshold for prescribing antibiotics for children who may be suffering an infection linked to strep A.
Strep A bacteria can cause many different infections, ranging from minor illnesses to serious and deadly diseases.
They include the skin infection impetigo, scarlet fever and strep throat.
While the vast majority of infections are relatively mild, sometimes the bacteria cause serious and life-threatening invasive group A streptococcal disease.
This occurs when the bacteria have invaded parts of the body such as the blood, deep muscle or lungs.
Two of the most severe, but rare, forms of invasive disease are necrotising fasciitis and streptococcal toxic shock syndrome.