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Jeremy Hunt Apologises To Family Of Baby Who Died After NHS 111 Failings

The government "let William down in the worst possible way", he said.

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Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has apologised to the family of a baby who died following "serious failings" with the NHS non-emergency helpline.

One-year-old William Mead died from sepsis after NHS 111 call handlers, who aren't medically trained, failed to recognise the severity of his condition.

William had developed an abscess on his lung following a chest infection. An NHS England report found that if a medic had taken the final phone call, they probably would have told the family to take William straight to hospital.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Hunt said: "I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the family of William Mead."

Melissa Mead with her son, William. The family is from Penryn in Cornwall.

Melissa Mead with her son, William. The family is from Penryn in Cornwall.

Hunt said he had met William's mother, Melissa, who "spoke incredibly movingly about the loss of her son".

He said: "Quite simply we let her, her family, and William down in the worst possible way, through serious failings in the NHS care offered, and I would like to apologise to them on behalf of the government and the NHS for what happened."

The report found that the 111 question-and-answer format was not "sensitive" enough to pick up conditions such as sepsis.


It also concluded that the call handler had failed to pick up on the fact that William's temperature had plunged to a low 35ºC (95ºF), a sign of sepsis.

The report also heaped the blame on GPs who had seen William numerous times in the months leading up to his death. It said they had failed to treat the underlying chest infection that caused his condition.

Hunt said William's case had "significant implications" for the NHS and that 111 call handlers would in future be better trained to know when a call should be referred to a medic.

"Call advisers are trained not to deviate from their script but the report says they need to be trained to appreciate when there is a need to probe further, how to recognise a complex call, and when to call in clinical advice earlier," he said.

Hunt also said there was now a "total focus" within the NHS to reduce the number of avoidable deaths from sepsis.

Melissa Mead told the BBC that William was "the most pleasurable baby, he made being a first-time mum the best job in the world. He was happy, he was content, he was full of smiles."


"I didn't think sepsis because I didn't know what sepsis was," she said. "And I think if GPs aren't recognising it, how are parents supposed to look out for it?

"It's the UK's second-biggest killer and hardly anyone knows what it is. So we have to do that research, we have to get that information out there."

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at

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