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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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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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