UK's North Midlands hospitals IT outage, day 2: All surgery and appointments cancelled

Not WannaCry... this time it's Cisco

Entrance to Royal Stoke University Hospital in Stoke on Trent, U
Entrance to Royal Stoke University Hospital in Stoke on Trent, UK. Pic: Shutterstock

An ongoing network issue with provider Cisco has caused all outpatient appointments and elective surgery to be cancelled at two North Midlands hospitals in the past 24 plus hours, The Register can confirm.

Both County Hospital and Royal Stoke University Hospital have had to shelve procedures since systems first went down on Tuesday morning.

A spokesman from University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, which runs both sites, told The Register that Cisco is investigating the issue. He said the problem that prompted the outage appeared to lie with the provider, rather than being a site issue.

"Some systems are coming back slowly; we are hoping to have an update this afternoon," he told us.

Procedures were cancelled yesterday as hospital staff were unable to access medical records. Furhtermore, staff were also unable to call patients and tell them this, as they were left without access to contact details.

In an update at 11am BST today, the University Hospitals trust said: "We would like to apologise for the ongoing IT disruption, which is having an impact on our clinical services across Royal Stoke and County Hospital. Both hospitals remain open, however we have cancelled adult and paediatric outpatient appointments today."

The Trust said its network provider was working "tirelessly to identify and resolve issues", adding: "All our staff are working hard to minimise impact."

It added: "Patients who are scheduled for routine elective surgery are being reviewed on a case by case basis. Patients will be contacted to rearrange their outpatient appointments as soon as possible.

"We are working with our partners to ensure patients are discharged home in a timely manner and that people are not sent to hospital unless absolutely necessary."

One local commented on Facebook: "The staff on the ground were superb today - all doing the best that they could under the circumstances. Profound thanks. To the hospital administration... well... you need better contingency plans and a more secure server. Your excellent clinical staff and patients in need are being let down by decisions made at boardroom level. Remember as you sit around the table, discussing finance and strategies... people's lives hang in the balance!"

Another said: "Absolutely shocking failures by the management! Where is your contingency planning for such events? 24hrs later your server provider still not able to fix this issue? Some serious questions for the management. Lack of clarity and procedures putting patients lives at risk. Utterly incompetent!"

The Register has asked Cisco for comment. ®

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