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Barts Health NHS Trust suffers catastrophic IT failure

Barts Health NHS Trust, the largest in the country, has suffered a catastrophic IT failure affecting several of its critical clinical systems – and the issue that began on April 20 has still not been fixed.

Indeed, the trust told Computing today that it is still experiencing problems with its IT, eight days after the issue began.

In a statement, Barts Health NHS Trust said that a major computer equipment failure on Thursday 20th April resulted in a number of IT applications being unavailable to staff, but that few operations had been cancelled as a result. 

“Unfortunately, it has been necessary 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.

“Clinical teams have completed a patient-by-patient review to ensure that the appropriate course of action is taken for each of them, endeavouring to keep the disruption to an absolute minimum. We apologise to those affected and will be in touch to reschedule their appointment for as soon as we are able,” it added.

The Trust went on to state that as it provides a range of services, the “situation is complex”.

“A number of applications have been affected to varying degrees, such as chemotherapy prescribing and digital dictation systems. Progress is being made with the position for pathology (blood testing) 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,” it said.

“The biggest challenge we face is with a system that supplies x-rays and other images, including CT and MRI scans. 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,” it continued.

The organisation said it had “tried and tested contingency plans in place” to keep patients and patient data safe. 

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