Five diagnosed with E coli
Tests on seven more expected to be positive
GPs criticised for turning away 'sick' children
Cuddly toys and books to be destroyed in clean-up

Doctors have been criticised for turning away children with E coli symptoms from their surgeries following an outbreak at a primary school.

Parents of pupils at Feltham Hill Infant and Nursery School in Bedfont Road, Feltham, complained that GPs told them they were not responsible for dealing with the infection.

Five people associated with the school - among them two children - have been diagnosed with the bug, and tests on seven more are expected to come back positive. The school has been closed since last Wednesday.

About 200 concerned parents packed Feltham Hill Junior School hall for an urgent meeting last night.

Dr Mike Robinson, director of public health at NHS Hounslow, told the audience: “I’ve written to all the GPs in the Feltham area to tell them that any concerns that are expressed then they need to take them seriously, and they should not be brushing you away.”

Dr Margie Meltzer, a consultant at the Health Protection Agency (HPA), said youngsters who had been ill were "improving".

Children’s cuddly toys and books will be destroyed when specialist cleaners enter the school on Thursday. Mums and dads reacted angrily after learning the HPA confirmed the first pupil with E coli on Saturday, January 30 - three days before alerting parents.

The agency contacted the school that weekend and discovered four more children had symptoms.

One mum said: "We should have been told on Monday there was a confirmed case of E coli at the school - my daughter had signs on Saturday.

"I sent my daughter to school on Monday because I thought she just had a bit of diarrhoea."

A grandmother added: "You took a choice away from all these parents by not giving them all the information so they can make an informed and educated decision."

Dr Robinson said: "It’s a question of balancing up with the disruption and anxiety caused, versus as you say the common sense, so parents have a right to know so they can take the precautions."

Hounslow Council’s environmental health team has taken swabs inside the school, excluding the outdoor drinking fountains, and has not found the source of the bug.

Juliet Isitt, environmental health officer at Hounslow Council, told parents they could be reassured the catering was safe, adding: “Even areas like the toilets where we might have expected to find it were all clean.”

Dr Meltzer said: “We think it has been transfered from person to person once in the school, we don’t think there’s an ongoing source in the school.”

Headteacher Maggie Newbury said she hoped to re-open on Monday, February 22.

For more information call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

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