More than 800 operations postponed since London cyber attack

  • 17 June 2024
More than 800 operations postponed since London cyber attack

More than 800 planned operations and 700 outpatient appointments were rearranged in the week following a cyber attack on pathology service provider Synnovis.

The ransomware attack, which took place on 3 June 2024, disrupted pathology services at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS FT and South London and Maudsley NHS FT.

Oxleas NHS FT, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, Bromley Healthcare, and primary care services in south east London have also been impacted.

NHS England said in a press release, published on 14 June, that 97 cancer treatments and five caesarean sections had been postponed, plus 18 donated organs were diverted for use at other trusts.

NHSE added that south east London pathology services have been provided at approximately 10% of normal capacity. Although primary care appointments are going ahead, blood tests are being prioritised for urgent cases.

Dr Chris Streather, medical director for NHS London, said to “expect disruption to be felt for some time”.

“Today’s data shows that NHS teams are working flat out to see as many patients as possible – but there is no doubt the ransomware cyber attack on Synnovis is having a significant impact on services in south east London, with hundreds of appointments and procedures being postponed,” he said.

In a joint statement, Professor Ian Abbs, chief executive of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS FT, and Professor Clive Kay, chief executive of King’s College Hospital NHS FT, said: “Despite the superb efforts of our staff and support from partners across London to continue caring for patients, we have had to postpone a number of operations and appointments which we are working to reschedule as quickly as possible”.

St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is creating capacity to treat some patients who would have been seen at the hospitals affected by the cyber attack.

The trust has set up an incident response room to manage requests and share information more easily, while ensuring it can continue to provide services to its own patients.

Jacqueline Totterdell, group chief executive at St George’s, Epsom and St Helier Hospitals and Health Group, said: “This is where the NHS comes into its own and it’s only with the support of colleagues from other parts of the NHS who are supporting St George’s that we are able to step up and support others.

“We’ve seen some of the sickest and most complex patients at St George’s following the cyber attack,  including patients needing major life changing surgery”.

Synnovis is focused on the technical recovery of the system, with plans in place to begin restoring some functionality in its IT system.

NHSE said: “Where there is a ransomware attack, there is always a risk that cyber criminals also access data.

“Alongside work on restoring services, investigations are continuing to establish any possible impact to data”.

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