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Barts NHS Trust hit with ongoing, week-long IT systems crash

Ongoing issues with the failure of several IT systems at England's largest NHS trust leads to cancelled appointments and service disruption as it continues to work on a fix

Barts Health NHS Trust is on its eight day of IT problems after it experienced an equipment failure leading to several IT systems being inaccessible to clinicians.

The IT problems at the trust, which is the largest in England, began on 20 April when it experienced “a major computer equipment failure” which has yet to be fixed.

The main issues have been with access to the trust’s imaging and radiology system, leading to it being forced to cancel a “very small number of elective operations that were reliant on images, and some patients attending outpatients are experiencing delays”, the trust said in a statement.

“The biggest challenge we face is with a system which supplies x-rays and other images, including CT and MRI scans,” the trust said.

“We have not lost our historic archive of images, but we have been unable to access them so far. While new images cannot be transmitted electronically, staff are viewing them on the machines that take the pictures.”

Other systems have also been affected, including its chemotherapy prescribing system and its digital dictation system.

Originally, its pathology system was also down, but the trust has now made progress with the system and it has “significantly improved with all orders now being received electronically by all Barts Health laboratories, although a backlog of blood and specimen tests will take time to process”.

The trust said it is continuing to “urgently maintain the operational resilience of our services, and ensuring our patients are safe”.

“We have tried and tested contingency plans in place to keep our patients safe and we will continue to communicate to patients and local partners,” it said.

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The trust added that clinicians have undertaken a review of each patient to ensure “the appropriate course of action is taken for each of them”, trying to keep disruption to a minimum. It will reschedule appointments as soon as the systems are up and running.

The IT crash hit the trust only months after it suffered a cyber attack in January this year. In March, it became clear that the attackers exploited a zero-day vulnerability, which has since been patched by the software supplier concerned.

A March board meeting revealed that the malware used in the attack affected all sites, except Whipps Cross Hospital, but that the response had been effective, “swiftly” restoring normal business activities.

The virus had affected pathology systems, requiring the temporary use of manual systems, but no other IT systems used to deliver clinical care. ... ... ...

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