A COUPLE want to raise awareness of meningitis after their plea for help from health professionals were ignored despite their 17 months old daughter showing symptoms of the killer disease.

Parents Claire and Darren Spiers of Berkeley were forced to call paramedics twice before their daughter Lottie was given a life-saving shot of antibiotics and taken to hospital.

Claire, 36, said that if it hadn’t been for her knowledge of meningitis and septicaemia and trusting her own instincts her daughter could have been dead.

Darren, who will be doing a skydive this weekend to raise money for Meningitis UK, said he felt angry after the incident because they put their trust in the professionals and in this case they got it wrong.

"As a parent you know when something is wrong with your child and I would say to parents be persistent because obviously people can make mistakes and meningitis is hard to diagnose," said Claire.

"If we hadn’t have persisted and rang 999 again I know Lottie wouldn’t have survived."

Claire and Darren noticed Lottie was unwell just after Christmas. She had a temperature and was lethargic. They called NHS Direct and were told not to worry and call a doctor if symptoms got worse.

"I knew something wasn’t right so I slept in Lottie’s room that night," said Claire, a teacher. "She moaned all night and in the morning when I went to change her napping I noticed a rash and my heart stopped – instantly I thought meningitis."

Claire said she only knew about the symptoms of the disease after going to a seminar in Berkeley organised by the Virgo family, who lost their two-year-old son Sam to the disease in 2008, and Meningitis UK.

"I ran downstairs to grab a glass, rolled it on the rash and it didn’t go away which I knew was a symptom, so we called an ambulance."

Paramedics checked Lottie, however decided it was not meningitis and instead booked her an appointment at Stroud hospital for the following morning and left.

"At that point I almost felt bad that I had called them out and wasted their time," said Claire. "But about 40 minutes later she was even worse, we looked at her rash and it had turned purple so we called for another ambulance."

This time different paramedics decided to give Lottie an emergency jab of antibiotics, a typical treatment for meningitis, and rush her to hospital.

"The paramedics and the hospital staff were amazing," said Claire. "The doctor said that the antibiotics jab probably saved her life."

Lottie spent a week in hospital and several months making a full recovery but is now fighting fit again.

Darren, a maintenance technician at Rolls Royce, said: "I was angry after it happened, because you put your trust in the professionals. But we are just so glad that Lottie has made a full recovery. We caught it in the golden hour, but it could have been so different."

A spokesman for Great Western Ambulance Service said: "We are delighted to hear the baby has recovered – which is the best possible outcome after what must have been a very frightening experience for her family. We have not been contacted by the patient’s family – if they do want to get in touch with us, we will look thoroughly into any concerns they have about how we dealt with this case."