West Midlands Ambulance Service email glitch investigated

Older man's hands Image copyright Matthew Horwood/Getty Images
Image caption Email alerts about vulnerable patients, including some elderly people, failed to send

Hundreds of safety warnings from paramedics about vulnerable patients were not sent to social services teams because of a computer glitch.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said an IT error meant some email alerts about elderly people, vulnerable children or adults with mental health issues had got stuck in its system.

It is investigating 356 cases in three years to see if patients came to harm.

The service declared a serious incident and has told health watchdog the CQC.

Emails failed to send between September 2015 and August 2018, but the service said these were a small percentage of the 45,000 safeguarding referrals it made each year.

When a referral is made by paramedics after a callout, social services professionals should be sent an alert and can then intervene to help the patient.

Ambulance service director Mark Docherty said the issue was not due to any individual, adding IT systems had now changed and the cases would be subject to "rigorous review".

"We will go through every single one of those cases, we will be very open and honest with people.

"If there has been harm caused, we will make sure we rectify any harm," he said.

"The important thing is we have made sure we don't have issues going forward."

Image caption West Midlands Ambulance Service director Mark Docherty said the trust would be "open and honest" about its findings

He said to date, the ambulance service had not found any "significant level of harm" caused, but reviews were continuing.

The Care Quality Commission said it would be monitoring the situation.

Lead for West Midlands Councils safeguarding, John Wood, said it would not be appropriate to comment until he had received the findings of the internal review.

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