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UK Health System Shut Down IT Systems, Cancelled Operations Due to Computer Virus

November 3, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust had shut down almost all of its IT systems this past week, resulting in a mass cancellation of operations and outpatient appointments, following the discovery of a computer virus on Sunday, according to media reports.

The health system, which had been posting updates about the major incident on its website, announced Thursday that the majority of its electronic systems are now back up and working. In the announcement, the health system encouraged patients to come in for planned appointments, procedures and operations.

According to an article by BBC News online, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG) said systems were infected with a virus on Sunday and that an NHS computer network had been attacked. The health system, which runs hospitals in Goole, Grimsby and Scunthorpe, announced Monday that it had shut down its IT systems and had to cancel hundreds of planned operations and outpatient appointments. Those measures had been in place since Sunday, so the IT systems had been down all week.

According to media reports, the health system shut down its information systems as well as its clinical IT systems. The health system did not report what type of virus it had identified.

The BBC News article, posted on Monday, quoted Karen Dunderdale, NLAG deputy chief executive: “A virus infected our electronic systems yesterday, and we have taken the decision, following expert advice, to shut down the majority of our systems so we can isolate and destroy it.”

"Our main priority is patient safety. All adult patients should presume their appointment/procedure has been cancelled unless they are contacted. Those who turn up will be turned away,” Dunderdale was quoted in the BBC News article.

BBC News further reported ,”The trust added that inpatients would be cared for and discharged as soon as they were medically fit, with major trauma cases and high risk women in labour being diverted to neighboring hospitals." And, the article quoted hospital officials as saying, "We are reviewing the situation on an hourly basis. Our clinicians will continue to see, treat and operate on those patients who would be at significant clinical risk should their treatment be delayed.”

Neighboring hospitals run by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust also were affected as the two trusts share four clinical IT systems and those hospitals had to cancel operations as well, according to media reports.

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