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NHS IT issues: the cause of patient harm? 

By Clare Gooch

Published In: Clinical Negligence

The BBC has recently reported the outcome of an investigation they conducted relating to IT issues within the NHS and how this has impacted on patients.

It is reported that system failures are linked to the deaths of three patients, and more than one hundred instances of serious harm, at NHS hospital trusts in England.

It is also reported that a freedom of information request revealed over 200,000 medical letters had gone unsent due to widespread problems with NHS computer systems. 

NHS England is said to have invested over £900 million over the last two years to introduce new and improved systems.

Coroners have also highlighted the role that hospital IT systems have played in peoples deaths. 

Darnell Smith had sickle cell disease, and was nonverbal. He was admitted to Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield in November 2022 with a cough, cold like symptoms and reduced appetite. 

He should have had his vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure and temperature checked by staff every hour for a minimum of six hours. On review he only had his vital signs checked once in a 12 hour period.

A coroner later concluded staff were not aware of Darnell’s particular needs because his personal care plan was not easily visible in the hospital's computerised records.

Several hours after his care plan became available, Darnell was admitted to critical care and was put on a ventilator. He died from two weeks later.

Following an inquest, the coroner warned of a “real risk of further deaths” if doctors couldn’t access important information about patients’ care needs.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust has apologised for the care Darnell received. They say they have already made changes to limit the chances of this happening again and a new IT system is being introduced this year.

Contact our specialist medical negligence team

At Switalskis we assist a number of people who have sadly been impacted by NHS IT issues. Missed appointments or unreported investigations can lead to a delay in diagnosis or a failure to follow care plans resulting devastating and life changing consequences for patients and their families. We encourage anyone who may have been impacted by not receiving medical appointments or appointments for investigations and has suffered an injury to get in touch so we can begin to support you. 

Contact Switalskis today. Call us on 0800 1380 458 or email us at for understanding, empathy, and legal advice.



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Clare has worked in Medical Negligence for over 10 years.  She’s a Senior Associate Solicitor in our Medical Negligence team based in Switalskis’ London office.

Senior Associate Solicitor

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