NHS apology to Devon woman over wrong 111 questions

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Media captionListen to the conversation between a sick woman and NHS 111 which led to the NHS apologising for asking the wrong questions

The NHS has apologised to a Devon woman who was asked the wrong questions when she dialled the non-emergency service NHS 111.

Michelle Perryman rang for help in June 2015 saying she felt violently ill but said she was frustrated by the service.

At one point the non-emergency service call handler is heard to laugh.

South West Ambulance, which lost the service in 2016 after a damning report, said the the call handler selected the wrong "pathway" on the computer.

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Mrs Perryman from north Devon complained in July 2015 and in December 2016 she got an apology and a "goodwill" payment of £100 from the NHS Litigation Authority.

Image caption Michelle Perryman rang the NHS 111 helpline saying she felt violently ill, but says the call handler asked her the wrong questions

"I was asked numerous questions, totally the wrong questions," said Mrs Perryman, who was ill after suffering "severe depression".

She was asked if she had developed a headache, or had travelled abroad recently, or being exposed to the Ebola virus recently.

After about 40 questions over a 10 minute call she was advised to see a GP, which she did, and was told an out of hours service had been informed.

South West Ambulance said call handlers have to ask a series of questions known as NHS Pathways which are selected with a computer.

But in a letter to Mrs Perryman it said "the outcome would not have been different" even if the "correct pathway" had been followed.

It added that it was not acceptable that the call handler was heard to laugh, agreed his tone was "inappropriate" and apologised for the "distress and upset".

The NHS 111 service

Image caption The NHS out-of-hours helpline has been rated 'inadequate' in a CQC report

June 2015 - Inquest hears that Cornwall baby William Mead death from sepsis after the 111 service and GPs failed to spot his condition "could have been avoided" if NHS 111 had referred him to hospital

January 2016 - An NHS England report finds the service "missed chances to save sepsis baby William Mead"

February 2016 - NHS investigates "sleeping 111 medics" at Dorset call centre

February 2016 - Top paediatrician questions safety of NHS 111 helpline for young children

February 2016 - The Royal College of Nursing claims staff are being implicitly pressured not to transfer calls to 999

June 2016 - the South West's "consistently failing" NHS 111 helpline, run by South West Ambulance Service, is rated inadequate in a "damning" report.

October 2016 - South West Ambulance Service hands over NHS 111 service to Devon Doctors

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