Mothers would rather go to A&E than call NHS 111 if child was ill, study finds

Charlie Cooper writing for The Independent: Netnums poll in wake of death of William Mead finds 78% of mothers would bypass 111 service

The vast majority of mothers would go straight to A&E rather than call the NHS 111 service if their child was sick, a survey has found.

In a Netmums poll, carried out in the wake a damning report into the death of one-year-old William Mead, from Cornwall, who died from blood poisoning in 2014 after neither GPs nor the 111 service identified the severity of his condition, found that 78 per cent of mothers would bypass 111.

More than 4,000 mothers participated in the survey, which will make worrying reading for NHS officials hoping to avoid overcrowding at A&Es this winter.

Accident and EmergencyRead more:
Hunt says William Meade’s family was let down in ‘worst possible way’

NHS England last night said it was “entirely understandable” that parents wanted to be “safe rather than sorry”, but pointed out that more than 90 per cent of callers to NHS 111 come away satisfied with the advice they received.

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt this week pledged to review NHS 111 in response to the report into William Mead’s death from sepsis, to ensure callers always have access to advice from a doctor or nurse when necessary, amid concerns the helpline depends too heavily on call-handlers who are not clinically trained.

Responding to the Netmums survey, an NHS England spokesperson said: “In the vast majority of cases A&E will not be the most appropriate place for a child to have their symptoms assessed.”

“Parents will do what they feel is best for their child, and so they should”

NHS 111 phone line will undergo ‘fundamental’ reform, Jeremy Hunt promises

He says the service needs to be made simpler and its algorithm changed. Clinicians no longer form the basis for the NHS’s flagship helpline service

Jon Stone for The Independent 26/01/2016: The NHS 111 phone line service will undergo “fundamental” reform in the wake of a report into an unnecessary death of a child, Jeremy Hunt has said.

William Mead, from Cornwall, died of Sepsis after NHS 111 failed to diagnose his condition.

The 111 service was rolled out by the Coalition government by early 2014 to replace the NHS Direct phone line.

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt

The change was criticised at the time because NHS Direct’s call handlers were mainly nurses, while the new service used non-clinician staff in call centres using a piece of computer software.

An inquiry into the effectiveness of NHS 111 launched after Mead’s death found that a trained doctor or nurse would have been more likely to successfully identify that the child was suffering from Sepsis.

The report said that might have saved the boy’s life because the tool used by the untrained call handlers was not adequate to detect sepsis.

Responding to an urgent question in Parliament about the issue, the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said changes to the algorithm used by call centre workers could help prevent future problems.

He also said the service would be reformed in order to make it more simple.

“With respect to 111 I think there are some things that we can do quickly in response to this report but I think there is a more fundamental change we can make to 111 as well,” he told MPs.

“Letting a computer decide how ill you are is not good enough”