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Computer virus quarantines London Hospital for second day

Plucky Brits shrug off Mytob network blitz

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IT staff at three major London hospitals have spent a second day struggling to restore IT systems following a major computer virus outbreak.

Computer systems at the St Bartholomew's (Barts) the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel and the London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green were taken down on Tuesday in response to an infection reportedly caused by the Mytob worm. The three hospitals form the Barts and the London NHS Trust.

A spokesman explained that a serious computer virus infection was detected on Monday. IT support staff thought they had the infection under control on Monday night, but systems crashed when staff logged in on Tuesday, prompting a decision to kick off established emergency procedures that involved shutting down the computer network at the hospital.

Mytob contains backdoor functionality but there's no evidence that systems containing patient records have been affected. Likewise there's no evidence of the malware spreading to other NHS Trusts or other connected organisations.

Trust staff are proceeding on the assumption that the hospital was not targeted by hackers. "There is no indication that this was a malicious attack," a spokesman said.

An updated statement on the Trust's website, published on Tuesday evening, says that medical work at the hospital is proceeding, with only minor interruptions.

Doctors and nurses have had to go back to pen and paper backup systems in some cases. Theatres and outpatients remained up and running throughout the incident, with accident and emergency departments at the hospital accepting ambulances again after temporarily only dealing with walk-in patients on Tuesday morning. Lab testing and imaging was available throughout the incident.

"By using back-up systems, manual procedures and working flexibly, we have continued to provide high quality care to our patients," said chief executive Julian Nettel in an updated statement, issued on Wednesday afternoon.

Patients with concerns about their appointment should contact the Trust on 0207 943 1335. ®

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