"In each case, had these signs and symptoms which were presenting been properly identified, or [had] the fact that they could not be properly understood been itself identified, there is a strong likelihood that each of the patients would have survived," Sheriff Tierney said.
Shomi Miah and Steven Wiseman died because of the ill-equipped system, the Sheriff ruled. Miah died of meningitis and Wiseman succumbed to toxic shock syndrome. The NHS 24 failed to appreciate the urgency of their symptoms and they ultimately succumbed.
However the NHS 24 is refusing to take responsibility. "There is no evidence to suggest that if either Shomi Miah and Steven Wiseman had been referred for face-to-face care earlier that the outcome would have been any different," it said.
Dr George Crooks, NHS 24's clinical director said, "We note the inquiry highlights the challenge that particularly primary care clinicians face, and that is that some rare and potentially very serious conditions may mimic very minor and self-limiting illnesses and can therefore be quite difficult at times to identify."