Welsh NHS Computers Back Online After IT Outage

NHS - Shutterstock: © RTimages

Chaos for doctors and nurses in Wales this week, as IT failure hits at least half of GP services

Health services in Wales were badly affected on Wednesday after a widespread IT outage played havoc with GP surgeries and hospitals.

The systems have since been recovered, but the Welsh government has warned that could be a backlog in some areas.

It has been a torrid time for technology in the NHS. Last year the health service was badly affected by the WannaCry ransomware outbreak in May 2017.

No Cyber Attack

The widespread system failure hit on Wednesday afternoon, and crashed computer systems for hospitals and GP surgeries.

There were reports that many doctors could not access patient notes, and other health services were said to have been affected.

The Welsh Government confirmed there had been a technical issue that had impacted two NHS Wales data centres, and it was not cyber security related.

“The NHS Wales Informatics Service have confirmed that all systems are now back although there may be a backlog affecting some areas,” a Welsh government spokesperson was quoted in various media reports. “They have assured us that there were no data security issues.

“The cause of the technical issue that affected two NHS Wales Data Centres remains under investigation,” the Welsh Department of Health and Social Services tweeted.

The British Medical Association (BMA) in Wales, which represents doctors, was quoted by the BBC as saying that it understood at least half of GP services had been affected.

And the IT failure also meant that patient telephone numbers could not be accessed, so patients could not be warned not to attend appointments.

IT Dependence

IT and tech in the NHS remains a sensitive subject.

In October last year the National Audit Office (NAO) criticised both the NHS and the Department for Health, and said that they could have avoided the devastating effects of the “relatively unsophisticated” WannaCry ransomware outbreak, if they had followed “basic IT security” protocols.

That cyberattack resulted in a staggering 19,500 medical appointments being cancelled across the NHS.

But the NHS is highly dependent on tech and this week it has published guidance on how health and care organisations can now make use of cloud computing or data offshoring facilities for the storage of patient information.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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