Madrid: Chaos with ambulance transfers due to computer failure

A problem in the SUMMA ambulance management and coordination computer system, specifically for non-urgent scheduled transfers, has caused hours of waiting since the weekend. Waiting times are up to six hours. At the moment, the most affected hospitals are La Paz and Ramón y Cajal, although any center may suffer delays while the computer failure remains.

According to the Ministry of Health, the error occurred last weekend, after the data of the old computer program was transferred to a new one. During this transfer, several errors occurred that are responsible for the defective recording of transfer requests. This is causing delays or even non-arrivals of ambulance cars.

The computer failure happened at the same time new companies began their subcontracted activity with the transport in ambulances.

At the hospital in La Paz, around a dozen patients were waiting up to six hours  for their transportation to arrive yesterday. Some had to call a pricy taxi to make it to an appointment, since the ambulance did not arrive.  The patients further reported a lack of information during their waiting time, both on the part from the hospital and the ambulances.

To compensate for the situation, the Health Community from Madrid announced to increase the number of desk operators that coordinate the ambulances from six to 22.


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