Following problems with the NHS Direct helpline, the NHS has been forced to pay out over £1 million in compensation.
Patients were given poor advice by operators on the helpline, which has since been scrapped.
This resulted in numerous successful legal actions being carried out, with one particularly unfortunate case grabbing headline attention.
One unfortunate patient has a testicle needlessly removed owing to incorrect advice proffered by the now defunct helpline.
Investigations have revealed that in almost all of the cases NHS Direct accepted that there was either a failure to properly diagnose symptoms and illnesses, or a delay in advising people to seek hospital treatment.
Other serious incidents related to false advice included a patient being permanently blinded, while further victims were left in unnecessary pain, with numerous individuals requiring subsequent operations to correct damage.
Perhaps the most dramatic case of all was related to the brain of an unfortunate NHS customer.
The patient suffered life-altering brain damage because they did not receive treatment quickly enough.
In total, the NHS has paid out £1.4million on 13 cases where it has accepted a patient was given negligent advice over the last four years.
And this figure is expected to increase further still, owing to the length of time that it has taken to resolve some of the complex legal cases necessitated by this problem.
Campaign groups including Patient Concern said the failures were due to the NHS trying to save £22 billion on government orders.
There have also been accusations from critics that the NHS is essentially dumbing its services down by significantly cutting staff numbers.
The Government has scrapped the NHS direct service and introduced the 111 number for less urgent cases, with this new system intended to improve the service to patients.
Commenting on the issue, a spokesman indicated the belief of the NHS that the new service had offered significant improvements over the previous system.
“Every effort is made to ensure that patients receive appropriate clinical advice, improving the healthcare options for millions of people around the country. The NHS 111 number is playing a major part in helping reduce pressures on other parts of the national healthcare system. It is high quality, robust and safe.”
Earlier this year, media reports indicated that over 100 call centres were facing major organisational problems.
It is increasingly clear that staff shortages are central to these difficulties, with only one nurse left to cover an area of 2.3million people on one occasion.