The NHS has experienced two major network outages in the space of 24 hours, after IT problems struck sites in Manchester and Wales on Wednesday (24 January).
Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust said it was forced to postpone some operations and rearrange some outpatient appointments following a four hour outage at several of its sites.
The trust was forced to implement “well-rehearsed business continuity plans” – resorting to pen and paper – as technicians worked to fix the problem.
The Manchester Evening News reported patients were asked to avoid A&E other than for “life-threatening emergencies” in the interim.
IT systems were back up and running approximately four hours later.
The cause of the problem is still unknown, and the trust could not be reached for comment when contacted by Digital Health News on Thursday.
A press release issued by the trust read: “Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust experienced a network problem today (Wednesday 24 January) on its Central and Trafford sites which affected access to a number of clinical systems for around four hours. All systems are now back up and running.
“Services used their well-rehearsed business continuity plans, including paper-based patient records, to minimise disruption to patients as far as possible during this period.
“This did mean that a small number of planned operations were postponed and some outpatient activity was also re-arranged. We will be re-scheduling these as soon as possible.
“We would like to thank patients and our staff for their co-operation and support during this time.”
This too led to staff having to cancel patient appointments, a problem exacerbated by the fact that staff could not access patients’ contact details.
The IT problems were resolved by late afternoon, although Wales’ Department of Health and Social Services has warned of a “backlog” as it works to get back up-to-speed.
Similar to Manchester, the cause of the problem has not been identified. However the National Cyber Security Centre confirmed to Digital Health News that the issue was due to a technical glitch as opposed to a cyber-attack.
And the Department of Health Services Wales tweeted Wednesday afternoon that there had been “no data security issues”.
Investigations into both outages are now underway.