NHS services recover well after global cyber attack

Hexham General Hospital. *Photo: K031721.
Hexham General Hospital. *Photo: K031721.

HEALTHCARE services across Tynedale are in recovery mode following a global cyber attack which hit computer systems across the NHS on Friday.

Officials at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Hexham General, said the “ransomware” cyber-attack left them without access to IT facilities and patient records.

And as organisations around the world battled back to normality, on Wednesday the trust warned patients to expect further disruption to planned services for the rest of the week.

The trust was one of the first organisations in the North-East to be hit by the virus and, despite having the most up-to-date antivirus protection available, PCs not covered were infected.

“We quickly alerted all other NHS organisations in the region including primary care services, who were then able to quickly isolate or take additional steps to protect their systems,” a spokeswoman said.

While planned CT and MRI appointments were able to go ahead, orthopedic outpatient clinics at Hexham had to be cancelled.

More than 40 patients expecting to have planned routine surgery on Tuesday and Wednesday at hospitals across the trust had their appointments postponed.

The cyber-attack prevented GP surgeries across the district from accessing vital information, including patient records, blood results and medication lists.

Doctors made handwritten notes during consultations, while admin staff in some surgeries had to use a paper diary system.

But despite having no access to computer systems from 4pm on Friday through to Monday afternoon, and in some cases into Tuesday, surgeries were able to cope without having to cancel appointments or turn patients away.

Anne Grieve, manager at Haydon Bridge and Allendale Medical Practice, said: “It was a challenging situation but our doctors were able to see patients as normal.

“We were unable to access blood results or x-ray results, but patients were very understanding of the situation.”

Dr Stephen Haywood, of Adderlane Surgery in Prudhoe, said: “Our computer system was not fully restored until Tuesday afternoon.

“We did not have access to patients’ past medical history, medication lists, or records of what was said during their previous appointments.”

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