The Daily Mail has reported that four children, including a baby have died after doctors and the NHS 111 hotline failed to spot their illness.
The revelations come after NHS England released a report into the death of one-year- old Willam Mead.
The BBC and Daily Mail have seen the official report from NHS England that William might have lived if NHS 111 call handlers realised the seriousness of his condition.
William Mead, from Cornwall, died in 2014 after a diagnosis of blood poisoning was missed by GPs and the NHS out-of-hours 111 helpline.
Melissa Mead, William’s mother, told the BBC that doctors advised them “not to worry” and NHS 111 said “it’s nothing serious” before her son’s death.
Sam Morrish,3, and Chloe Welch,4, each died from sepsis after both doctors and the NHS helpline failed to spot their symptoms.
It has been suggested that this failure was a result of issues with the box-ticking computer script set up for the 111 non-medical advisers.
In 2013 eleven-week-old Sebastian Randle’s parents were failed by the defect in the 111 system’s script. Sebastian died of sepsis as a result of a rare strain of meningitis.
According to the NHS Choices website, NHS 111 is a non-emergency number where you can speak to a highly trained adviser, supported by healthcare professionals.
It goes on to say you should use the service if you urgently need medical help or advice, but it’s not life-threatening.
Speaking about William Mead’s case, England’s Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told MPs: “Whilst any health system will inevitably suffer some tragedies, the issues in this case have significant implications for the rest of the NHS that I’m determined we should learn from.”
The Official NHS England report into William’s death recommends 111 advisers get more training in what questions they should be asking, and when to escalate cases.
Staff at the 111 center that took Mrs Mead’s call have been given extra training to understand when cases might be more complex and need referring to a medical professional.
Mrs Mead said: “We are glad the report has shown up there were failures and missed opportunities. We hope from the recommendations made this never happens again.
William’s blood poisoning, known as sepsis, followed a chest infection and had been missed by GPs.
The NHS England report found William’s parents weren’t given adequate information on what to do should his condition worsen over the weekend.
Sepsis is known as the ‘silent killer’ because it can be difficult to diagnose. Mr Hunt has called for more awareness of the condition for both GPs and the general public.
Blood poisoning is the second biggest cause of death, and can occur following a variety of infections. It is most common in the very young and elderly.
Signs of sepsis include fever, breathlessness, shivering and mottled or discoloured skin.
Mr Hunt continued to tell MPs that all NHS 111 centers had expert medical staff on hand to give advice, but that it wasn’t appropriate for every call to be answered by a doctor or a nurse.
This comes at a time when NHS officials are urging people not to attend A&E but to use services such as 111 and their local pharmacy to treat minor illness.
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