In the UK there is a well-publicized crisis unfolding in the accident and emergency (A & E) departments of hospitals.
There are many reasons for the huge increase in the numbers of people presenting themselves at A & E, one of which is that the NHS 111 system is failing in that it directs too many people to A & E because it is run by an algorithm (a computer program) and the computer programme plays safe and defaults to A & E.
The NHS 111 system is a telephone, call center helpline to which people who have suffered an accident can telephone for advice. It used to be manned by nurses but is no longer.
The employees at NHS 111 are laypeople who are briefly trained and who rely on their computers to make decisions (to provide the advice to the caller).
An anonymous whistle blower disclosed that on one occasion, "One call handler sent an ambulance to a cat with diarrhoea". This shows that both the call handlers and the computer algorithm are unable to consistently make the right decisions thereby highlighting the failure of the system.
The government now understands where a major reason for the A & E crisis lies - thanks to a cat.
I wonder what the doctors at the hospital did about the cat's diarrhea ;) .
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