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NHS 111 service let our family down
6:00am Monday 30th September 2013 in Echo News
A MOTHER whose daughter died after a series of hospital blunders has accused the NHS of “losing its way” over its new 111 phone line.
Christine Papalabropoulos, of Harris Close, Wickford, has criticised the out-of-hours phone service after calling it several times to seek help for her surviving daughter, Vikki.
Vikki’s sister Tina, 23, died in 2009 after Basildon Hospital staff made several errors while treating her for respiratory problems.
Mrs Papalabropoulos said Vikki, 32, had also been failed by the NHS because its 111 service had been incapable of providing the out-of-hours care she needed.
On one occasion, she added, a doctor had to be sent more than 60 miles from Kent because no local doctor was available.
Mrs Papalabropoulos said: “In my eyes, human life is the most sacred thing, especially after losing Tina.
“I just have no faith in the NHS any more.I fear it has lost its way in protecting life.
“It all comes down to saving money and it’s having a detrimental effect on the health service. The people who suffer are the patients.
“We should go back to the way out-of-hours cover used to be. There was nothing wrong with the system before. If something isn’t broken, then don’t fix it.”
Mrs Papalabropoulos dialled 111 on a Sunday and was told the overnight GP for Basildon had failed to turn up for their shift because of a rota mix-up.
A week before, more confusion meant an early morning 111 call from Mrs Papalabropoulos was connected to medics 180 miles away in Derbyshire.
When she was finally put through to a south Essex operator, she was told the nearest doctor was in Ashford, Kent.
Daughter Vikki, who has special needs and several long term health problems, had a severe throat infection at the time.
Mrs Papalabropoulos was particularly worried because before she died, Tina, who had learning difficulties, epilepsy and a severe spinal condition, had complained of a dry cough.
Tina was admitted to Basildon Hospital and died five days later after doctors failed to spot she had pneumonia and a lung infection.
Mrs Papalabropoulos added: “We get very worried about Vikki,becauses he can'tget rid of her problems very quickly.
“We need to know there is reliable care there for her out of hours.”
The 111 hotline, run by to Integrated Care 24, went live in south Essex in March, replacing the old NHS Direct system.
After experiencing problems in April, Mrs Papalabropoulos said she made several “test calls”
– and ended up being wrongly connected to centres in Newcastle, Ipswich, Bristol and Cornwall.
Phone line boss: we're sorry THE organisation which runs south Essex’s 111 service has written to apologise for the poor service the Papa labropoulos family received.
Integrated Care 24 denied the 111 hotline had put Mrs Papalabropoulos through to the wrong place, but admitted its on-duty doctor had not been available for home visits.
It is now introducing a text and phone reminder system to force duty doctors to confirm they are aware of their shifts.
Managing director Lorraine Gray said: “I would like to apologise again to Mrs Papalabropoulos and her daughter for the service they received when they contacted our out-of-hours service recently.
“Providing a high-quality service is of the utmost importance to me and my teams and when this doesn't happen, we take it very seriously.
“When a patient calls NHS 111 from a mobile, the call can occasionally be picked up by other NHS 111 providers.
“This provides a safety net for patients, as all NHS 111 calls are clinically assessed, then directed to the most appropriate local service.”
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