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Virus shuts down hospital systems


19 November, 2008  

The system that operates computers at three London hospitals has failed after it was infected by a computer virus, trust officials said.

The bug shut down the system at St Bartholomew’s (Barts) and The London NHS Trust on Monday and overnight attempts to fix the problem failed.

A team of engineers was formed on Tuesday to get the trust –  which is made up of Barts in the City, the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel and The London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green – back online.

A trust spokesman said that while emergency procedures had been activated to keep key clinical systems operating safely, he could not yet say whether day-to-day running had been affected.

Geoff Martin, of campaign group Health Emergency, said: “This was a disaster waiting to happen and it calls into question the billions of pounds committed to NHS computerisation for a system that has fallen at the first hurdle.”

A spokesman for the trust said that theatres and outpatient departments had “remained operational throughout the incident” and patients with appointments were being seen.

He said walk-in patients were being accepted at A&E and processed using manual back-up systems, but ambulances were being diverted to neighbouring hospitals.

Copyright Press Association 2008

Barts and The London NHS Trust