Chelmsford Coroner’s court heard how seven-year-old Malaika was misdiagnosed by 111, with a stomach bug, gastroenteritis, just a day before she died of sepsis from a burst appendix.
Malaika’s mum, Donna Howe, 38, called 111 after her daughter’s condition worsened. The service in South Essex is handled by a provider called IC24 based in Ashford, Kent.
She called the service at 6:43pm but did not receive a call back from a clinician until 7:49pm, where she was given “Green Two” priority by the ambulance service.
An investigation later revealed that Malaika should have been assigned the more urgent “Red Two” priority.
An ambulance did not arrive until 8:37pm, more than two hours after the initial call.
Paramedic, Joanna O’Brien, said IC24 gave her such little information that she did not know that Malaika was a child. This caused further delays as paediatric equipment was needed.
Ms O’Brien said: “She looked so fragile to the point where if I had moved her, from my past experience, without blood pressure my thoughts were that she would pass away as soon as we sat her up because she had no radial pulse or blood pressure.”
Once stablised she was taken to Basildon Hospital, where the handover from the ambulance took twice as long as the 15-minute target, and she later died.
Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray accepted the cause of death as natural, caused by peritonitis, due to acute appendicitis with perforation.
At the inquest hearing, Ms Beasley-Murray said communications failings from call handler IC24 and ambulance delays may have contributed to her death.
She said: “Malaika Farida Promise Adam died of natural causes. There were failings in the service provided by both IC24 and the East of England Ambulance Service. It is possible that care might have made a difference to the outcome.”
Malaika’s mum, Donna Howe, said: “There was some responsibility recognised in the conclusion, which we were hoping to hear because the system hadn’t worked 100 per cent for Malaika, which is really sad”.
“It’s not brought our little girl back, but at least we’ve been able to make some sort of a difference and hopefully no one will have to go through what we’ve just been through”, she continued.
Jane Reeves, of IC24, admitted there had been failings but said since Malaika’s death, the company had retrained its staff with information from the Sepsis Trust.
This is another case of a child dying due to the lack of training by 111 NHS in recognising the symptoms of sepsis.