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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 18:04 GMT
NHS 24 'changes' followed deaths
Shomi Miah
Shomi Miah died in hospital after NHS 24 was called
An NHS 24 medical director has admitted changes have been made to the service since the deaths of two patients.

Dr Brian Robson was giving evidence at a joint fatal accident inquiry into the deaths of schoolgirl Shomi Miah, 17, and 30-year-old joiner Steven Wiseman.

They died after the NHS 24 helpine was called for assistance, Aberdeen Sheriff Court has heard.

The evidence finished on Monday, and there will now be submissions at a later date.

Grieving relatives believe delays in receiving treatment through the out of hours NHS 24 helpline may have contributed to both deaths.

In pain

Shomi, a sixth year pupil at Aberdeen's Harlaw Academy who wanted to be a doctor, died from meningitis in hospital just two weeks after celebrating her 17th birthday in October 2004.

She was told it would be hours before a doctor could visit her at home, and was told to visit an out-of-hours medical centre - despite being in pain, unable to get out of bed.

We did learn and made lots of changes to the way we operate
Brian Robson
NHS 24, medical director

Mr Wiseman, a father-of-two, died of septic shock after he was told by NHS 24 he had "flu-like" symptoms. He was told to take painkillers but later died.

Dr Robson, 40, told the FAI on Monday a number of changes have been made to the NHS 24 service.

"We did learn and made lots of changes to the way we operate," Mr Robson said.

"Clearly any output from the FAI will be incorporated."

Tightened up

He said nurse advisers have been specifically trained to recognise the signs of meningitis and the service has looked at other ways of assessing callers' pain levels.

It has improved training, sharing the lessons it has learned "internally and externally" and ensuring staff have regular reviews.

Complaints procedures have also been tightened up and the assessment of complaints made more thorough, the court was told.

Mr Robson said NHS 24 was trying to learn any lessons it could in the wake of the deaths and now works with the Meningitis Trust and the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Evidence in the inquiry has now concluded and lawyers have been given four weeks to complete written submissions. Final submissions will take place on 15 March.

Helpline nurses face 'difficulty'
02 Dec 05 |  Scotland
Nurse gave 'safe clinical' advice
05 Oct 05 |  Scotland
Court hears 'help' call to NHS 24
03 Oct 05 |  Scotland

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