Lincolnshire Hospitals Cancel Operations After Their IT Suffers Virus Infection

The hospital has been forced to shut down it IT network to seek out and destroy the virus

A virus infected the network of the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundations Trust (NLAG) forcing its hospitals to shutdown its computers and cancel operations and appointments across Lincolnshire.

“Our main priority is patient safety. A major incident has been called and all planned operations, outpatient appointments and diagnostic procedures have been cancelled for today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday). All patients should presume their appointment/procedure has been cancelled unless they are contacted. Those who turn up will be turned away,” the Trust said.

“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.”

NHS cyber attack

doctor with smartphoneThe move to shut down most of its computer network has been taken so that NLAG’s IT staff can isolate the virus and destroy it.

While the antenatal clinics and chemotherapy treatments, as well as emergency departments will remain open, the rest of the hospitals’ operations have been halted with patients advised to only come to it if they absolutely must. Other patients such as women in labour are being diverted to nearby hospitals.

The cyber attack also affected the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust which shares some of the clinical IT system is used with NLAG. As such, the virus has had a rather wide affect and significant impact.

Both Trusts appear to have contingency plans to look after their most critical patients, but the virus shows how such cyber threats can wreak havoc in large organisations.

While it is unclear as to whether the virus was a directed cyber attack against the hospitals or a piece of rogue code that had found its way onto the hospitals’ network due to poor security practices or perhaps the wrong link being clicked on by a user of a medical computer.

It is also worth noting that budget constraints and the scale of hospital operations often means than many of the IT networks NHS Trusts have are based on outdated systems, which leaves them more vulnerable to cyber threat, malicious or otherwise.

In the US cyber attacks against hospitals are a major problem, with many being forced to part with thousands of dollars after their networks become injected with ransomware.

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