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Toddler died “after mistakes made by NHS 24 helpline”

9 October 2007

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A toddler who died from meningitis could have been saved if staff at the NHS 24 helpline in Scotland had called for an ambulance, a sheriff has ruled.

Lisa Thomson realised her son Kyle Brown was covered in a bruise-like rash in April last year.

She phoned the helpline after he became unwell, but had to wait 40 minutes for an NHS 24 nurse to call her back.

She was then sent to the primary care centre at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary by taxi as staff had failed to realise the seriousness of his condition.

Kyle, who was 20 months old, was later moved to the city’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children, but died from meningococcal septicaemia on 2 April.

A fatal accident inquiry was held at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, and sheriff Andrew Lothian said in a written judgement: “I have to determine that Kyle’s death might have been avoided had emergency treatment by means of a 999 ambulance call to take him to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children been made.”

He added: “There does not appear to have been any mechanism whereby it could be decided by a call handler that a number of symptoms taken together could make matters such as to go into a more serious category.”

A spokesman for NHS 24 said the service has now introduced changes to its call procedures following Kyle’s death.

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