14/08/2014 16:48 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

'Daughter Could Have Died' Because Of New NHS 111 Helpline, Say Parents

'Daughter could have died' because of new NHS 111 helpline, say parents

Angry parents claim their 10-year-old daughter could have died if they had relied on a new NHS 111 helpline.

Beau Marshall was ill with stomach cramps last Saturday when her worried mother Candice phoned the service that is being piloted in her area.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said she first spoke to a call-centre worker, then to someone else with some medical training - who assured her a doctor would phone back within two hours to assess the little girl and possibly to arrange a home visit.

But more than a week on, the doctor has still not called and if Candice had followed NHS advice her daughter could have died from a potentially fatal appendicitis.

Beau's father Paul Marshall, who lives with his wife, three daughters and young son in Bournemouth, told the newspaper: "When my daughter had stomach pains last Saturday, my wife dialled 111 and they told us a doctor would phone back within two hours.

"They still haven't phoned back yet. We took her to accident and emergency in the end, and within two-and-a-half-hours of Beau being seen by the triage nurse, she was being operated on.

"The 111 service was awful - they didn't know who was doing what. If we had solely gone on what they said, potentially she could have died."

Beau's mum added: "When I dialled 111 they asked me lots of questions. Because she had banged her head with a boy in her class, they were more interested her a non-existent head injury than the pain in her abdomen.

"She'd been sick as well, and that can be another sign of a head injury - but of course it is also a sign of appendicitis. The first guy I spoke to said he was going to be a clinician to phone back, and about ten minutes later someone did.

"She tried to get us an out-of-hours appointment at 9.30pm last Saturday, but couldn't get us one until the next day, so said 'I'm going to get an out of hours doctor to phone you, and if he thinks it necessary he'll come out and assess her'.

"That was eight days ago. A doctor still hasn't called back."

Beau was kept in hospital until Monday, and has made a full recovery.

There is growing concern over the introduction of the 111 service. Doctors have warned lives could be at risk, saying some of the £16,000-a-year call-centre workers who are manning the phone lines are only partially trained.

The idea is the new service combines the long-running NHS Direct helpline with local emergency out-of-hours services.

The British Medical Association has called for the introduction of the service across most of England to be delayed until problems are resolved.

A spokesman for NHS England, the body managing the NHS 111 service's introduction, said: "This is a very important service for the public and we will make sure everything is in place to make a safe, high quality service that patients and the public can trust.

"Many sites are already up and running, but in areas where NHS 111 is not yet available we will make a thorough assessment of readiness before new sites are introduced.

"The public can be assured the areas that already have NHS 111 will continue this service. In those areas where NHS 111 is not yet in place they can ring NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. All GP surgeries also have messages advising what to do."