2 October 2013 - 2:17pm | posted by | 0 comments

Medical services postponed for over 500 people as NHS battles to fix network failure

Failure: NHSGCC is battling to restore services after network issuesFailure: NHSGCC is battling to restore services after network issues

More than 500 people have had medical treatment or appointments postponed after an “unprecedented” IT issue left digital systems down in the west of Scotland.

The problem has been ongoing for more than 36 hours and only “a basic level” of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde IT services have been restored.

According to the health service, 459 outpatient appointments have been postponed along with 48 chemotherapy treatments, 14 planned inpatient procedures and 43 day cases.

NHSGGC chief executive Robert Calerwood said: “Those which have had to be postponed were as a result of clinical decision taken because the treatment or consultation was reliant on detailed imaging and other patience information which was unavailable as a result of the network issue.

“The unprecedented IT issue relates to our network and the way staff can connect to some of our clinical and administrative systems.”

He added: “I apologise unreservedly for the inconvenience this has caused to our patients who have had their procedures postponed and I will ensure that everything possible is done to get their treatment carried out at the earliest opportunity.”

Calderwood praised staff for maintaining more than 7,000 appointments and planned procedures despite the difficulties but concerns have been raised that the shift towards digital systems may have left vulnerabilities in the health service.

Gayna Hart, founder and managing director of healthcare systems supplier Quicksilva, said: “It is only when something like this happens that NHS organisations realise the criticality of ‘the boring IT stuff’.

“The role of IT in healthcare makes an IT failure literally a matter of life and death and I am wondering what has happened to the usual ‘resort to paper’ workaround that you would expect in a disaster situation.”

A spokesperson for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said IT specialists were working round the clock with international suppliers to return services to full functionality but could not confirm when they expected service to be completely restored.

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