A TODDLER suffering from meningitis could have been spared the ordeal of having her feet amputated had she been properly diagnosed by a telephone care line, a court heard.

Chantelle Pringle was just two when she was struck down with the potentially fatal disease. Her mother called  an out-of-hours medical telephone line and was advised to treat her with Calpol.

Tragically, the delayed admission to hospital meant gangrene had set in and both of her feet had to be removed.

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Chantelle’s high fever and vomiting, led to worried mother Keeley Grotz, calling the helpline shortly after midnight on November 17 2004.

She spoke to a triage nurse who told her Chantelle was likely to be suffering from an upper respiratory tract infection and advised giving her liquid paracetamol.

But the toddler actually had meningococcal septicaemia and her condition worsened over the next 11 hours.

When Ms Grotz spotted a rash on her body in the morning, an ambulance was called to the family's home in Barmston, Washington, and she was rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital.

London's High Court heard it was only then was she treated with antibiotics but it was too late to save her from the double amputation.

Today, (Friday, May 2) Chantelle, now aged 11, has been guaranteed a compensation payout for her injuries after Judge Michael Harvey QC ruled the nurse had been negligent in failing to arrange her immediate admission to hospital.

He said her feet would probably have been saved had she been treated during the crucial hours earlier and found the company that ran the out-of-hours service, Nestor Prime Care Services Limited, liable for the nurse's blunder.

The amount of Chantelle's compensation has yet to be assessed but lawyers have valued her claim at about £1m.

The court heard how Miss Grotz had phoned her GP's surgery just after midnight but encountered an answering machine that gave her the number of the out-of-hours service.

She had a 15-minute conversation with the nurse who told her Chantelle probably had a viral infection and said she should be kept cool and given Calpol.

Nestor Prime Care, the company which ran the service, admitted the nurse had been negligent in failing to arrange for a doctor to call at the family home.

But the company disputed claims that the nurse should have called for an ambulance immediately, and said it would have made no difference to the outcome.

By the time Chantelle was admitted to hospital just after 11am the following morning gangrene set in and her right foot had to be amputated at the ankle and her left foot at the tarsometatarsal joint.

The judge said that if the nurse correctly diagnosed Chantelle's, given the symptoms, in particular her lethargy, Nestor Prime Care's computer system would have prompted him to call an ambulance immediately.

He ruled that if Chantelle had been admitted to hospital by about 1am that night, rather than over 10 hours later, she would have been given antibiotics and the amputations would probably not have been necessary.

The amount of Chantelle's compensation will be calculated at a future court hearing, unless final settlement terms are reached before then.

Miss Grotz declined to comment when contacted by The Northern Echo and no-one was available at Nestor Prime Care Services.