NHS helpline 'missed chance' to save one-year-old William Mead

The mother of a baby whose death has thrown doubt on whether the NHS's out-of-hours helpline can identify when children have potentially deadly illnesses has described the whole situation as "soul-destroying".

Melissa Mead, 29, of Penryn in Cornwall, was speaking after an NHS England report found that 16 mistakes had contributed to the death of her 12-month-old son William.

He died from sepsis as a result of a chest infection on December 14 2014 but could have been saved if a 111 call handler, who spoke to Mrs Mead, had realised the gravity of his illness.

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William Mead death: Hunt promises to push through NHS 111 reforms

Health Minister Jeremy Hunt says he is looking to reform the 111 helpline Credit: SWNS

A couple whose baby died from sepsis as a result of a chest infection have been told by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt he is looking to push through reforms to the 111 NHS helpline.

An NHS England report found that 16 mistakes contributed to the death of 12-month-old William Mead in December 2014.

His mother, Melissa, 29, told ITV News on Tuesday she believes William would still be alive if she had been given the right advice by doctors and 111.

She and Paul Mead met with Mr Hunt on Thursday. He said he will look to implement reforms to the 111 helpline which would allow call handlers access to patient's medical records.

William's parents have also been invited to meet with Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director for NHS England next month, along with other leading medical figures to spearhead the campaign for sepsis awareness.


'Thousands of avoidable deaths from sepsis every year'

More than 12,000 people, including 1,000 children, may be dying 'unnecessarily' from sepsis according to the Sepsis Trust.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the NHS is now determined to make sure the infection is spotted sooner but Labour accused the government of ignoring previous warnings from two years ago, that more needed to be done.

This video report from ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener has been removed

NHS England 'working with sepsis charity' after baby death

NHS England has said that it is working with a sepsis charity and child health experts to better recognise signs of the condition in babies and children.

William Mead died as a result of sepsis after a catalogue of errors by doctors and NHS 111 Credit: GMB

It follows a report out today that found 16 blunders by doctors and NHS 111 helpline operators led to sepsis going undetected in 12-month-old William Mead, who died as a result of the condition.

The tragic death of William Mead highlights the vital need for everyone, including GPs, out of hours services and NHS 111, to better recognise the early signs of sepsis.

To help reduce the risk of any other family going through such suffering, experts from Sepsis UK and the Royal College of Paediatrics and child health and the NHS are already working to prevent future similar tragic events.

We have also recognised the need for GP out of hours and 111 services to work seamlessly, and they are now being combined on a rolling basis across England.

– An NHSE spokesperson

Hunt: Serious failings have implications for NHS

Jeremy Hunt Credit: PA

"Serious failings" that led to the death of one-year-old William Mead have "significant implications for the rest of the NHS", Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

A "lack of understanding of sepsis" and "limited sensitivity" in the questionnaire used by NHS 111 workers have been identified as failings, he added.

Mr Hunt said it was difficult for clinicians to spot sepsis but there has been a renewed push to educate GPs in the signs.

He said there was also scope for a public awareness campaign to help parents spot the "tell-tale signs" of the deadly infection.


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