Baby William could have been saved had he received appropriate medical care
The news that William Mead could have been saved had he received appropriate medical care, and in particular if the NHS out of hours helpline had been able to identify the gravity of his condition, is extremely disappointing.
The 111 service was set up to replace NHS Direct, NHS24 and local GP out of hours services in February 2014. The service is available 24/7 and is designed for urgent but non-life threatening conditions. At the core of the system is the NHS Pathways triage system, a system that seeks to ensure that the member of the public is given the appropriate advice and referred to the relevant healthcare provider, if applicable, by asking them a series of questions. These questions are aimed at excluding various conditions until such time as the system arrives on an illness or injury that cannot be excluded, and a diagnosis and treatment plan is therefore given.
It is clear that in William Mead's case that the non-medically trained NHS 111 adviser who took his mother's call failed to appreciate the severity of his condition, meaning he was not given the urgent medical attention he so desperately needed.
At the heart of the problem in this case, was a lack of understanding about sepsis, a condition that William Mead's mother has said "hardly anyone knows what it is", a sentiment I sadly agree with, especially following a case I was involved in where another baby boy was given inappropriate treatment and passed away.
Sepsis is a medical emergency and treatment needs to be provided without delay. Hopefully the recommendations that have been made in NHS England's report following William Mead's death will be implemented immediately and future deaths will be prevented.
By Mark Bowman, Partner
William Mead's family / bbc.co.uk