PERFORMANCE: An ambulance service was forced to record details of emergency calls with pen and paper for more than 24 hours after problems installing a new computer system.

London Ambulance Service had planned to replace its 20 year old call handling technology with a new software system called Command Point overnight last Tuesday.

Staff were prepared to use a manual system, writing down call information and radioing it to crews, for a brief period during the switchover. They had been reminded to make sure they had an up-to-date map book.

However, technical problems meant the service’s call centre, which receives 4,000 calls a day, was left relying on pen and paper while technicians worked through the night on Tuesday and all day Wednesday to try to resolve the problem.

The installation attempt was finally abandoned just before 3am on Thursday morning and the service returned to using the old call handling system.

A spokeswoman said: “At all times during this process our priority was to answer all incoming 999 calls, and get an appropriate response to those patients with the most serious illnesses and injuries.”

Unison branch secretary Eric Roberts said: “It was stressful but staff handled the situation with professionalism. They are trained in manual methods as a standard fall-back”.