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Toddlers died after NHS 111 helpline said they were not in danger

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The NHS 111 helpline for urgent medical care is facing calls for an investigation after poor decision-making was linked to more than 20 deaths.

Experts say that inexperienced call handlers and the software used to highlight life-threatening emergencies may not always be safe for young children. At least five have died in potentially avoidable incidents.

Professor Carrie MacEwen, Chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “These distressing reports suggest that existing processes did not safeguard the needs of the children in these instances.”

Since 2014 coroners have written 15 reports involving NHS 111 to try to prevent further deaths. There have been five other cases where inquests heard of missed chances to save lives by NHS 111 staff; two other cases are continuing and one was subject to an NHS England investigation.

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Source: The Times, 5 January 2020

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Sadly, there does not appear to be an effective systems for sharing learning from coroner's reports - either to prevent the risks of harm being repeated or indeed sharing the good practice that is developed in responding to these reports. We're writing to the Chief Coroner about this so watch this space!

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