Medical hotline criticised after toddler’s death
A CORONER has called for urgent changes to the NHS 111 hotline after an ill toddler died hours after being misdiagnosed with a tummy bug.
Natalie Deviren called the service three times in the middle of the night as her two-year-old Myla vomited, struggled to breathe and developed blue lips.
She says she was made to feel like a ‘paranoid’ mother and assured her daughter probably had gastroenteritis. In fact, Myla had a twisted bowel and suffered a cardiac arrest two hours later. She was taken to hospital but doctors were unable to save her.
Assistant coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp recorded that Myla died of natural causes, contributed to by neglect, and stressed the child would probably have survived with appropriate treatment.
Yesterday it emerged she had issued a ‘prevention of future deaths’ notice to NHS 111 along with Herts Urgent Care, which provided the out-of-hours service, and Public Health England, urging them to make improvements.
The toddler’s death is the latest linked to blunders at NHS 111. One-year-old William Mead died in December 2014 after his mother dialled 111 but was not asked questions about sepsis symptoms, so call handlers failed to diagnose it.
According to recent research, coroners have sent similar warnings to the advice line relating to 11 deaths over the past four years.
Miss Rhodes-Kemp said that, while changes had been made since Myla’s death in August 2015, she was concerned that more needed to be done.
She said steps should be taken for ‘a suitably qualified paediatric specialist clinician’ to be available to talk to concerned parents at all times and the ‘default position’ should be to ‘call an ambulance’.
Mrs Deviren, who lives with husband Matthew in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, said: ‘We trusted their advice. It’s awful being made to feel like you are just being a paranoid parent.’
Myla began vomiting and suffering abdominal pain in the early hours of August 27, 2015.
Her mother rang 111. During her first call, at 4.06am, she mentioned her daughter’s blue lips. She called again 15 minutes later and let the nurse hear Myla’s breathing. At this point, the inquest heard, the nurse should have called for an ambulance. Instead, she put Mrs Deviren in touch with another nurse from the service, who misdiagnosed gastroenteritis.
Herts Urgent Care said since Myla’s death, staff had undergone mandatory training in relation to child illnesses. NHS Digital said: ‘NHS Pathways safely triages 16.5million calls every year.’
‘We trusted their advice’
Tragedy: Myla Deviren died after a fatal misdiagnosis