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Coroner concerns regarding problems with 111 and 999 telephone service


Coroner concerns regarding problems with 111 and 999 telephone service

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Coroners have issued 11 “Prevention of Future Death” reports since 2015, including two following the death of children, due to concerns that problems with the 111 and 999 call handling systems are leading to avoidable deaths.

The most recent report was made at an inquest into the death of Sebastian Hibberd, a six year old, who died of intussusception, a condition where the bowel telescopes in on itself, blocking the bowel. Sebastian’s father rang 111 numerous times as Sebastian was vomiting green vomit, had cold hands and feet, stomach pain and was confused and delirious. Despite these concerning symptoms, 111 did not recognise the life-threatening nature of his condition and Sebastian suffered a cardiac arrest at home before dying after arrival at hospital.

At the subsequent inquest, the coroner, Ian Arrow, found that the pathway questions for children over five were inadequate which led to a delay in their appreciation of the severity of Sebastian’s condition. He also found that had this been identified earlier, Sebastian’s life may have been saved. The coroner has called for a review into support for 111 call handlers, who are not clinically trained, and also whether there needs to be a failsafe mechanism to ensure a face to face meeting with a doctor where there are repeated calls relating to the condition of a child. NHS England and NHS Digital are due to respond to his concerns by Mid-August.

Bell Lax are experienced clinical negligence solicitors with a significant amount of experience supporting and representing families at inquests as well as in any related clinical negligence claim. Whilst nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one, we can assist you to obtain damages to help ease the financial burden that this will have upon you and your family.

If you think that we may be able to assist you, please call us to speak to one of our specialist lawyers on 0121 355 0011.