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Government apology after NHS helpline missed chance to save one-year-old boy

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has apologised to the family of one-year-old William Mead from Cornwall who died of sepsis after an NHS non-emergency helpline failed to recognise the severity of his illness.

Mr. Hunt said the case showed the issues raised in the case had significant implications for the whole of the NHS.

The Health Secretary also said the NHS England report showed there were several areas where the NHS where the NHS missed opportunities to treat William Mead including:

  • Primary care and GP appointments made by William's family
  • Out-of-hours calls with their GP
  • The NHS 111 Service

The report said if better action had taken place at these stages the one-year-old would probably have survived.


Cornish MP queries value of 111 NHS helpline after one caller was asked "Are you conscious?"

A Cornish MP has queried the value of the 111 NHS helpline after one of his constituents was asked "Are you conscious?"

Andrew George, who is the Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, said the system faced "meltdown" over the Christmas period and was based 200 miles away in Newport, South Wales.

Minister Norman Lamb said it was important to keep the system under review.

Statement from new NHS 111 organisation

NHS111 can help patients to navigate their way through the myriad of NHS services that are out there. It is easy and free to access and will point patients to the best place to meet their urgent health needs. We have been careful in our planning and preparation for the Devon service and during our testing the Department of Health praised SWASFT for their recruitment and training processes. We are confident that our service will be amongst the very best in the country.”

– Dr Simon Scott-Hayward, GP clinical lead for Devon’s NHS111 service

NHS 111 number to be switched on in Devon

The introduction of the 111 number in Devon has been delayed twice. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The NHS telephone helpline 111 will be switched on in Devon today.

The county has decided to go ahead with the phone line, despite problems with it in neighbouring counties.

The helpline aims to give people advice about health concerns which are not emergencies, but has twice faced delays in Devon - it was first due to be launched in April and then June.

The service will be run by the South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust for the next five years.

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