A woman has died after her 999 call for emergency medical assistance was denied after a nurse’s gut instinct to authorise an ambulance was overruled by a computer system.

The woman contacted NHS Direct for help after experiencing vomiting and stomach pains but was advised by the nurse call handler that she should wait for a response from her GP and that her symptoms didn’t require an ambulance.

The 58-year-old died two hours later.

Following an investigation into the incident, the nurse admitted that although her gut instinct had been to send an ambulance, the computer system had ultimately made the decision, not her.

Clinical negligence was listed as a contributing factor to her death

A coroner ruled that the woman had heart disease and recorded a verdict of death by natural causes. However, clinical negligence was listed as a contributing factor to her death.

Kashmir Uppal, a clinical negligence specialist at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Sadly, this is an example of the catastrophic impact that taking fundamental treatment decisions away from qualified professionals can have.

“Undoubtedly, technology has enabled countless advances in medical treatment but relying too heavily on computer systems to make potentially life-saving decisions, without having the benefit of human judgment, can have a disastrous impact.”