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The NHS 24 Hour Helpline is to be sued for giving inaccurate advice

NHS helpline inaccurate advice


Following an inquiry in July 2006 two families are to sue the NHS 24 helpline after giving inaccurate advice. The NHS Helpline is a call centre which operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week to assist the public with health inquiries to alleviate pressure from the NHS.

The two cases which occurred in November and December 2004 saw a young girl and a father of two die after receiving advice from a nurse at the helpline, informing the families to give painkillers as symptoms were similar to flu, both had meningitis, and later died.

Both cases were heard at a joint inquiry, where it was concluded that the system had failed by failing to identify their life-threatening conditions and that both patients were likely to have survived if the helpline advisers had either made the right diagnosis, or accepted that they could not understand the symptoms. The report recommended that NHS 24 reviews how it trains advisers to question patients.

An independent review in 2006 found that NHS 24 suffered from chronic staff shortages, lacked leadership and had been set up in a rush.

NHS 24, which receives around 32,000 calls a week, has made changes including training advisers to raise awareness of meningitis symptoms, giving more regular training in the use of algorithms, and in about repeat calls should be handled.

If you or someone you know has been affected by inaccurate advice from NHS 24, our solicitors may be able to help with legal action. Fill in our online claims form for free advice.