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Last Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
Court hears 'help' call to NHS 24
The Miah family
The Miah family attend the first day of the inquiry in Aberdeen
A conversation between a teenager, who died from meningitis, and an NHS 24 adviser has been played on the opening day of a joint fatal accident inquiry.

The father of 17-year-old Shomi Miah broke down as he heard a nurse adviser tell his daughter that it would take up to four hours for a doctor to visit.

The families of Miss Miah and Steven Wiseman, 30, blame failures by the out-of-hours service for their deaths.

The joint inquiry is expected to last at least seven days.

Ms Miah died from meningitis in October last year and Mr Wiseman died from flu complications two months later.

Chondon Miah said "he lost everything" when staff at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary told him that his daughter had meningitis.

The 60-year-old, who was helped in court by an interpreter, said: "I am in the waiting room and I was told: 'You are coming very late'.

"I said: 'What?' and they said: 'She has meningitis'."

Body pains

He told Aberdeen Sheriff Court how Shomi had said she felt "a little cold" after coming home from school on 25 October 2004.

Later his wife called him at work and said that Shomi was very cold, had a high temperature and had pains in her body.

Mr Miah told his wife to tell his son to call NHS 24 and explain that Shomi had suffered from meningitis in 1996.

The family said they were told by the service to give her paracetamol and put a towel over her head.

When her condition deteriorated in the early hours of the morning, NHS 24 agreed to send a doctor but warned it could take up to four hours.

The main reason we are going through all of this is to try to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else
Khalis Miah
Brother of Shomi Miah

When a doctor arrived he called an ambulance to take Shomi to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

But he told Mr Miah that he should not worry about meningitis because she did not have a rash. Shomi died in hospital later that day.

One of her brothers, Khalis, told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "We've lost our sister and nothing will bring her back.

"But the main reason we are going through all of this is to try to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else.

"The service needs improving and the family is quite pleased that something is going to happen towards that and no-one will suffer the same way as our family."

Shomi Miah
Shomi's family say a quicker NHS 24 response could have saved her

Mr Wiseman, from Laurencekirk, in Aberdeenshire, died in December after complaining of flu-like symptoms.

His fiancée called NHS 24 in the early hours of the morning and was told to administer painkillers and wait for her doctor's surgery to open.

Kerry Robertson said: "We were wanting this all along (the inquiry) because we feel that someone's to blame and we need to get answers now.

"It could have been prevented and there is a lot of anger still because of his age, he was fit and there was no reason for it to happen.

"We need answers to see if there is anything more they could have done and why they didn't do anything else."

Helpline reforms

NHS 24 has come under intense public scrutiny since it began three years ago.

Last week it said it was recruiting more staff in an effort to improve its service.

Five new dispersal centres are being set up across Scotland to take re-routed calls from the main bases and NHS 24 said it aimed to answer 90% of calls to its helpline within 30 seconds.

Watch Colin Wight's report.

Family welcome NHS 24 publication
02 Jun 05 |  Scotland
NHS 24 savaged by official review
02 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Death inquiries to probe NHS 24
28 May 05 |  Scotland

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