Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

Mum dies after NHS 111 call handler cancelled her ambulance when it was just one minute from her home

A WOMAN was found dead in her living room ten hours after an NHS 111 call handler cancelled an ambulance when it was just one minute away from her home, an inquest heard today.

Tragic Ann Walters, 61, died after a nurse called off the emergency response team which had been heading to see her. A later investigation found Pete Richardson had ‘not demonstrated an understanding of heart failure’ when dealing with the call. At the hearing he confessed he made a mistake and apologised to the family. The inquest was told Mrs Walters called the NHS 111 service on December 28, 2014, asking for a doctor to be sent to her home.

Her breathlessness caused an initial call handler concern, so she was classed as an emergency. He was told by Mrs Walters – who at the time only had months to live – that she had a heart defect, and so dialled 999 himself for an ambulance to be sent to her home despite her asking to see a doctor instead. A crew was initially dispatched from Waterlooville to her home nearby in Portsmouth, but within four minutes a different ambulance was sent from Queen Alexandra Hospital in the city as it was nearer her home. However, in the meantime Mrs Walters was called at 8.24am by Pete Richardson, a qualified nurse and clinical support desk practitioner for the 111 service.

After talking with her, he took the decision to stand down the ambulance which was just one minute from her home.

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Mrs Walters (left) was found dead by her son Lawrence pictured here with his sister Felicity

Filed under: NHS Blunders,

Ambulances referred by NHS 111 service deliberately delayed under secret trust policy, inquiry finds

Probe concludes decision to embark on the plan which affected 20,000 patients was taken by boss of South East Coast Ambulance trust

Ambulances dispatched after people called the NHS 111 helpline were deliberately delayed under a secret policy authorised by a senior health service executive, a leaked report seen by The Daily Telegraph reveals.

Up to 20,000 patients were subject to deliberate delays under the covert operation, which forced high-risk cases in the South East to automatically wait up to twice as long if their call was referred from the helpline. An inquiry into the scandal, which was exposed by this newspaper in October, has concluded that the decision to embark on the plan was taken by the chief executive of South East Coast Ambulance trust.

The draft report says Paul Sutton ordered the changes despite direct pleas to him from senior managers raising concerns about the dangers of the scheme.  The “forensic review” ordered by regulators, due to be published shortly, is one of three separate probes into the scandal. It details how the secret policy came to be introduced, without the knowledge of the trust’s board, without any risk assessment and in clear breach of NHS rules.

A separate inquiry, which will report later this year, is examining the extent of harm caused by the protocols to the thousands of patients affected. At least 11 deaths have been linked to the rogue protocols.

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F5A675 NHS South East Coast Ambulance parked by some grass while the crew take a break., in South East England, UK.

Filed under: NHS, ,

NHS 111 helpline safety questioned by top paediatrician

A leading child health specialist has questioned whether England’s NHS 111 helpline is safe and effective for young children.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health president Prof Neena Modi said the system was unfair on call handlers, who are not medically trained. She said even clinicians would find it hard to assess small children by phone. NHS England acknowledged the importance of thorough training but said the royal colleges helped produce the protocols.

A report last month by NHS England described how NHS 111 missed chances to save 12-month-old William Mead, from Cornwall, who died in 2014 from blood poisoning following a chest infection after staff failed to recognise the seriousness of his condition. NHS England has said call handlers for the 111 service should be trained on how to recognise a complex call and when to call in clinical advice earlier.

The government has said this will happen as soon as possible. But the NHS England report concluded that if a medic had taken the final phone call, instead of an NHS 111 adviser using a computer system, they probably would have realised William’s “cries as a child in distress” meant he needed urgent medical attention.

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William’s mother Melissa said she found out-of-hours services ‘chaotic’

Filed under: NHS Blunders, , ,

Asleep when they should be saving lives: Pictures of exhausted paramedic and call handler snoozing shame NHS’s out-of-hours hotline at UK’s worst-performing 111 centre

  • Photos at call centre where fatal errors were made in William Mead’s case
  • Baby died hours after a 111 call adviser failed to spot he was seriously ill
  • Ex-manager reveals concerns were ‘repeatedly raised’ about call handler
  • Health Secretary says Daily Mail’s new evidence will be ‘fully investigated’

They are the devastating images that shame the NHS out-of-hours service. Taken at the country’s worst-performing 111 centre, they show an exhausted paramedic and call handler fast asleep at their posts – unable to hear potentially life-or-death calls coming in from patients.

The pictures were taken at the same call centre where fatal errors were made in the case of baby William Mead, who died hours after a 111 call adviser failed to spot he was seriously ill.  They are revealed today as a former manager at the service lays bare the true scale of the blunders that surrounded the tragedy. Sarah Hayes reveals that ‘concerns had been repeatedly raised’ about the member of staff who took the call that led to William’s death – but he had never been suspended. She also says the failings at the 111 service that contributed to William’s death were by no means isolated, claiming that the call centre is frequently mired in chaos.  As well as staff falling asleep on the job, she claims, a string of serious blunders were covered up.

The revelations have been met with anger from the parents of William Mead. They had been given written assurances by the head of the 111 service that ‘no concerns’ had previously been raised over the call handler’s performance. Last night they demanded an urgent investigation.

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sleeo.jpg 1 sleeo

Worn out: A woman paramedic asleep at the Dorset 111 centre (left) and her call handler colleague (right) – unable to hear potentially life-or-death calls coming in from patients

Filed under: NHS,

Hunt apologises to family of dead boy over NHS sepsis failings

Health secretary accepts recommendations of report on William Mead, who died despite visits to GP and call to helpline

Jeremy Hunt has accepted the recommendations of a damning NHS report which found that doctors and the NHS helpline missed four opportunities to save the life of a one-year-old boy. The health secretary offered a public apology to the family of William Mead, who died in September 2014 of the common sepsis bug, which went undetected despite repeated visits to the GP and a call to the NHS 111 helpline hours before his death. He promised that lessons would be learned from Tuesday’s report. Labour accused the government of ignoring warnings about poor sepsis care a year before William died.

Speaking in the Commons, Hunt said: “Whilst any health system will inevitably suffer some tragedies, the issues raised in this case have significant implications for the rest of the NHS which I’m determined we should learn from.”

Hunt said he had met William’s mother, Melissa, to offer his personal apologies. “Quite simply, we let her, her family and William down in the worst possible way through serious failings in the NHS care offered and I would like to apologise to them on behalf of the government and the NHS.”

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Filed under: NHS Blunders, , ,

Nothing can prepare you for seeing your baby in a coffin’: Bombshell report condemns NHS 111 service as not safe for sick children over blunders that cost baby his life

  • William Mead died after developing an abscess in his left lung aged one
  • His mother Melissa, 29, of Cornwall, called NHS out-of-hours service 
  • But non-medically trained call handler failed to realise how serious it was
  • NHS England report found service ‘unsafe for seriously ill children’

The out-of-hours NHS hotline is unsafe for seriously ill children, a bombshell report reveals. The 111 service puts parents at the mercy of a box-ticking process that can miss life-threatening symptoms. The shocking finding comes in a report into the death of a baby from sepsis. It said William Mead might be alive today had a 111 call handler realised just how ill he was.

That blunder is only one of 16 that contributed to the tragedy. But many of the problems are nationwide, the report says, because:

  • GPs are pressured not to prescribe antibiotics, including to children;
  • They are reluctant to refer sick patients to crowded casualty units;
  • Patients suffer ‘loss of continuity’ when taken ill over a weekend;
  • Out-of-hours doctors cannot access patients’ medical records, often leaving them in the dark.

The report is the result of a gruelling year-long campaign by Paul and Melissa Mead to know the truth about their son William’s death in December 2014. NHS England concluded that a doctor or a nurse taking their call would probably have seen the need for urgent action. But most 111 staff, who use computer scripts, are not medically trained. Other problems included the failure of GPs to carry out basic checks for signs of sepsis, and to give William the antibiotics that could have saved his life.

Mrs Mead said no words could explain her family’s profound loss. She called for lessons to be learnt from William’s death.

Click on the link to read more and watch the NHS Direct Video which shows how the 111 service works


William Mead, pictured with parents Paul and Melissa, died from sepsis after a series of medical blunders including an NHS 111 service operator not realising how serious his illness was

Filed under: NHS Blunders, ,

NHS paid more than £1m in compensation due to helpline’s bad advice

THE HEALTH service has had to pay out more than £1million in compensation to patients who suffered after being given poor advice from the controversial NHS Direct telephone helpline.

Legal documents from the NHS show that patients who rang the now-disbanded service have successfully sued for a range of ailments triggered by incorrect advice. One case involved the family of a patient who died. In another the patient suffered life-changing brain damage as a result of not getting treatment quickly enough. Other payouts involved patients left blind, in needless pain, requiring extra operations and a case where a man had to have a testicle removed.

In nearly all the cases NHS Direct accepted there was a delay or a ­failure to recognise the symptoms of an ­illness or to refer somebody to hospital quickly enough. The dossier of claims also lists cases where patients won compensation after suffering a heart attack, dental damage, burns and peritonitis, a serious abdominal infection. Over the past four years the NHS has paid out on 13 cases where it has accepted that a patient suffered because of negligent advice.

The total compensation involved is £1.4million. The figure has shot up in the past year as one of the most recent cases, believed to be where the victim suffered brain damage, was settled with a payment of more than £1million.

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Filed under: NHS Blunders, ,

The tragic cost of NHS out-of-hours hotline’s descent into meltdown: Two babies died after parents were given wrong advice – as investigation finds ONE nurse on duty for 2 million people

  • Investigation reveals NHS out-of-hours hotline is in meltdown in part of UK
  • Staff shortages mean those with just three weeks training are overwhelmed
  • Hotline has missed answering targets for seven months, affecting 500,000
  • Two babies died after staff failed to recommend treatment to save them
  •  Up to 75 per cent of calls can go unanswered at busy times, research finds

The NHS out-of-hours hotline is in meltdown in parts of Britain, a Daily Mail investigation reveals today. Chronic staff shortages mean call centre staff with just three weeks of training are being overwhelmed. Lacking medical qualifications, they must follow on-screen computer prompts that often lead to a referral to a nurse. But so few nurses are on standby that at times there is only one to serve as many as 2.3million people.

The hotline, which replaced NHS Direct and deals with urgent cases, has missed its call-answering targets for the past seven months. Half a million patients were unable to speak to anyone at all during this time.

Evidence obtained by the Mail, including shocking testimony from an NHS whistleblower, reveals that:

  • A tick-box computer culture means call centre workers can miss vital symptoms;
  • Two babies died after staff failed to recommend treatment that could have saved them;
  • Up to 75 per cent of calls can go unanswered at busy times, with one case of an 11-hour wait for a call back;
  • Nurses have been told to prioritise routine calls over advising on serious cases so they can hit targets;
  • 111 staff believe the service is ‘completely unsafe’.

Click on the link to read more and watch the video


Former NHS 111 worker and whistleblower Irsah Tahir, 21 has waived her anonymity to raise her grave concerns

Filed under: NHS, Whistleblowing, , ,

NHS 111 helpline service to undergo major revamp following undercover investigation by The Telegraph

All negotiations over the running of local NHS 111 services have been suspended following a Telegraph investigation which exposed major safety risks to patients.

Health officials will issue a new blueprint this autumn promising a new model of care, and national standards on how the helpline should work with ambulances, GP out of hours and urgent care providers.

NHS England’s chief operating officer has written to all providers and commissioners of 111 services, calling for all current tender processes to be halted, until a new “functionally integrated” service has been designed.

The letter was issued last Friday, two days after The Telegraph disclosed concerns about the way 111 helplines are being run. South Central Ambulance Service launched an inquiry after an undercover investigation found call handlers being put under pressure to avoid sending ambulances. Some told how they phrased questions so as to minimise health concerns.

Click on the link to read more 

Speeding ambulance

Speeding ambulance

Filed under: A&E, Hospital, NHS, , , , ,

NHS 111 investigation: 10 things we’ve learned

Failing to send ambulances to potential emergencies; watching Game of Thrones in between calls; changing data to meet targets – and more

Patients who call the NHS 111 service are being denied ambulances, even if they are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, a Telegraph investigation has revealed.

The 111 service was set up as a non-emergency alternative to 999 to relieve pressure on the health system, including A&E departments.

An undercover investigation found that staff at a 111 call centre in Oxfordshire were told that there were not enough ambulances to send to everyone in need.

“People are having heart attacks, they’re not breathing, they’re not getting ambulances,” the undercover reporter was told.

Here we examine 10 of the details to have emerged in our seven-week investigation.

Please click on the link to read more

Speeding ambulance

Speeding ambulance

Filed under: A&E, GP's, Hospital, NHS, ,

How to save the NHS – by the people who work for it. By Homa Khaleeli, paramedic for the NHS

Paramedic: ‘Binge drinkers should get a bill of £60 to £80 when they are discharged from hospital’

I have been a paramedic for the NHS for 13 years. We are under a lot of pressure; an ambulance crew in my service is often sent out on 10-14 calls a day. Some calls can take an hour, to an hour and a half – and we work 12-hour shifts. The majority of the time we have to work overtime, anything from 20 minutes to several hours.

We rarely get breaks; you may try to snatch lunch, get a coffee and a rest in the 14 minutes between passing a patient on to the hospital and leaving. Some of my colleagues are on new rotas – working nights getting hardly any rest, and then being put on early shifts. In my opinion, two sets of people are being killed here – ambulance personnel, slowly and surely before we retire; and patients dying because we are on unnecessary call-outs when they need us. Paramedics and ambulance personnel are leaving their jobs in droves. Private ambulances are now attending emergency calls.

NHS 111 is partly to blame – especially the privately owned parts. All they care about is not being sued so they send ambulances out for everything. If someone has had a cough for three days, so has chest pains from that, they will call us out. Some even tell patients they might be having a heart attack! It’s disgusting.

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Homa Khaleeli, paramedic for the NHS

Filed under: A&E, Hospital, NHS, , , ,

Mum called NHS 111 helpline 23 times before death

A review has been launched after a woman died at home alone despite repeatedly calling the NHS 111 helpline for assistance. Phone records show Anne Roome called 23 times in the hours before she died, although it is not clear how many times she got through to an adviser. 111 advisers can arrange ambulances in emergencies, but they did not send one to the 68-year-old’s home in Derby. Derbyshire Health United said the circumstances were “unfortunate”.

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Filed under: Uncategorized, ,

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