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Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 16:22 GMT
Inquest opens into player's death
Kieron Gregory
Kieron Gregory was a former youth rugby international
An inquest been hearing how rugby player Kieron Gregory died from meningitis after being sent home from hospital.

Mr Gregory, who was 34, died in the back of an ambulance after doctors sent him home with two paracetamol tablets.

A verdict of death by natural causes was recorded at the inquest in Newport.

Kieron Gregory
Kieron Gregory was a former captain of Tredegar RFC

Mr Gregory was the former captain of Tredegar RFC but also played for leading Welsh clubs Newport and Neath during his rugby career, when he was capped for Wales B.

The inquest heard that he had never suffered serious ill health before going to the Nevill Hall hospital in Abergavenny in January with a raging temperature and headache.

He was examined by a doctor and was sent home 90 minutes later.

A Home Office pathologist later gave the cause of death as meningococcal septicaemia.

Kieron's mother, Joan Gregory, told the inquest that her son had suddenly become ill while at the gym earlier that day.

"He had tingling in his legs and a terrible headache and said that he couldn't stand the light," she said.


I now wish I'd told her then that he was too ill to leave that hospital

Joan Gregory

His condition deteriorated rapidly and she decided to call an ambulance but she described how she became increasingly concerned about her son as the ambulance took so long to arrive.

"We eventually got into the ambulance," she said.

"Outside the ambulance they were laughing and joking, looking for a carrierbag to put their dirty cups in."

"At this time Kieron was having a hard time breathing and I was panicking."

She then went on to describe that though it was an emergency call, no flashing lights or sirens were used on the ambulance to get to the hospital.

Mrs Gregory also criticised the casual way in which her son was treated by the doctor.

Blood pressure

"She (the doctor) lifted his T-shirt up and said `what a fine figure of a young man you are' and tapped him on the back," Mrs Gregory told the inquest.

The doctor took a blood specimen and Kieron's blood pressure and examined his eyes before giving him two paracetamol and leaving him to rest.

"As I sat there, Kieron's colour was grey and his breathing was erratic and his chest was going in and out," she said.

But she said the doctor returned and advised Kieron to go home and take two paracetamol and keep warm.

"I now wish I'd told her then that he was too ill to leave that hospital, Mrs Gregory said.

"Of course we thought we were in reliable hands."

Deteriorated

"We are not medical people and we were so glad just to get to the hospital after the ambulance took such a long time to come."

At home, Mr Gregory's condition deteriorated rapidly and later that evening the family called a second ambulance.

Mrs Gregory said she was told by a member of the ambulance crew: "Stop panicking, it's not life-threatening."

But she said: "I think Kieron died within quarter of an hour of that - it was a disgusting scene."

Again no flashing lights or sirens were used to take her son to the hospital and Mr Gregory died in the ambulance.

Giving evidence, David Bennett, a paramedic supervisor with the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, and ambulance crew technician Teresa Suter denied that there had been any neglect of Kieron Gregory by ambulance staff.

Ms Suter said that to have used blue lights and a siren "would have been detrimental to the patient's condition."

But when being questioned by Sonia McGarrigle, representing the Gregory family, she said: "With hindsight I wish I could have done a lot more."

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17 Jan 00 | Wales
Funeral of meningitis victim
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