Computer failures led to a series of serious incidents with a vital NHS phone service.
The 111 patient helpline, launched last year to replace NHS Direct, suffered three major outages during 2013, one of which forced operators to revert to writing down patients health concerns on pieces of paper.
The telephone service, operated by Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS), relies heavily on computer software to give advice.
The majority of people manning the phone lines are not clinically trained and calls are only diverted to nurses and doctors if they are deemed serious.
The loss of the computer system, which failed for periods in June, July and October, meant large backlogs of calls while staff waited for it to be fixed.
And the Examiner can reveal one of the failures was caused by a planned power outage at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.
The maintenance work also caused problems for GPs who were working out-of-hours as they could not access crucial computer systems.
Details of serious incidents, provided under Freedom of Information law, show a series of lengthy waits led to a dangerous lack of care.
One incident reveals that a patient went into cardiac arrest as his wife drove him to hospital after she became frustrated with advice from the 111 service, which had told her merely to make sure her husband visited a GP within 24 hours.
YAS declined to reveal if the man survived.
Other recorded incidents show excessive waits for clinical advice, with one elderly woman waiting 14 hours.
In all, eight serious incidents were recorded between March 2013 and February 2014.
Last August the service was criticised by Huddersfield health chiefs and told to improve.
Commenting on the computer failures, chief executive of Greater Huddersfield CCG, Carol McKenna, said:“ We are aware that the technology underpinning NHS 111 has let the service down on occasion, but as commissioners we are assured that the contingency plans already in place for such an eventuality worked well and patients were not adversely affected”.
Over the past year The Examiner has revealed two cases where Huddersfield pensioners were forced to wait so long for medical advice from NHS 111 that they ended up being admitted to hospital.
And a 98-year-old woman from Mirfield was also left waiting more than 14 hours for a doctor after her granddaughter rang the 111 number on a Saturday afternoon.
But we also reported that the new service had saved the life of one Skelmanthorpe child after an operator realised he had deadly meningitis.
Health chiefs have admitted the service struggled during the first nine months of operation but claim it is now operating well.
A Yorkshire Ambulance Service spokesman said: “The isolated problems with the computer system involved multiple providers of the NHS 111 service and involved more than one IT supplier. The issues meant that the computer system used to record information provided by callers and the outcomes of clinical assessments was not available. During this time our business continuity processes were implemented successfully and paper records were used instead.
“The NHS 111 management team in Yorkshire has received assurance that the problems have been fully resolved”.
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