‘Business as usual’ at Grantham’s hospital and surgeries after being struck by cyber attack
Computer systems at Grantham Hospital and GP surgeries in the town were disabled by a global cyber attack at the weekend.
The incident happened on Friday, affecting hospital trusts all over the country. Sites under the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) were badly affected and staff were unable to access information on patients.
Over the weekend and on Monday, ‘routine activity’ at Grantham, Lincoln and Boston hospitals was cancelled, including outpatient appointments, diagnostic tests and routine operations.
But the trust said chemotherapy treatment at Lincoln and Boston would still go ahead as planned, as would all antenatal and maternity scan appointments at the three hospitals.
Some appointments at GP surgeries in the town had to be cancelled but the vast majority of patients were still able to be seen.
Dr David Baker, of Vine House Surgery in Grantham, said: “We lost computers from Friday pm to Monday lunch. The vast majority of patients were seen as planned. But we had to cancel a small number, particularly on Friday afternoon. We were running normally by Monday afternoon.
“Thanks go to IT for providing a security patch and our practice manager Mandy Peberdy who came in on Sunday to install a patch on all PCs .”
According to the South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissing Group, all surgeries in the Grantham area were back in business by Wednesday.
In a statement it said: “Following the ransomware cyber attack that affected NHS organisations in Lincolnshire, as of 4.30pm all Lincolnshire GP practices are able to offer a ‘business as usual’ service to patients, and have access to clinical systems. Back office functions may still be slow initially, so please bear with practices and their staff.”
ULHT said it was ‘back to business as usual’ from Wednesdayy, with the majority of appointments going ahead as planned.
It added: “In a small number of cases appointments have been cancelled and the patient contacted. Patients who do attend for their appointments are asked to bear with our staff, as some systems are running slowly.
“We took quick and decisive action when the attack hit our hospitals, which has reduced and minimised the impact of the virus. We apologise to all patients affected by cancellations as a result of this attack and thank them for their patience as our systems get back to normal.
“We would also like to thank our staff for the work they have done to ensure patient care has been prioritised during this difficult time.”
The cyber attack happened on Friday afternoon. The ransomeware demanded payment from users before allowing access back to the system. The attack affected all kinds of organisations, not just health services, and struck in about 150 countries across the world.
Organisations, including ULHT, had experts working to fix their systems over the weekend. Computers have been fixed with a ‘patch’ which is a piece of software used to repair and update computer systems, but it is known that this was not entirely successful with ULHT.
Chief operating officer Mark Brassington said: “Our teams have been working over the weeks and months to ensure we are as up to date as we can be with our cyber security and that will continue.
“We have got over 6,000 computer devices across Lincolnshire and we have rolled out the patch to all of those devices.
“We know that maybe not all of them had the patch successfully installed but we know that we did ask the computer to update with the patch. So we need to understand why that was the case and we also know that a number of computers that had the patch have also been affected. So we need to understand those issues and we will know more as the days and weeks progress.”