Critical incident at London hospitals due to cyber attack with surgeries cancelled

Major hospitals in London have declared a critical incident after a ransomware cyber attack led to the cancellation of operations and the loss of blood transfusions.

Memos to NHS staff at King's College Hospital, Guy's and St Thomas' (including the Royal Brompton and the Evelina London Children's Hospital) and primary care services in the capital say pathology partner Synnovis was hit by a "major IT incident".

Synnovis is a provider of pathology services and was formed from a partnership between SynLab UK & Ireland, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The memos said the "critical incident" has had a "major impact" on the delivery of services, with blood transfusions particularly affected.

Some procedures and operations have been cancelled or have been redirected to other NHS providers as hospital bosses continue to establish what work can be carried out safely.

One patient, Oliver Dowson, 70, was prepared for an operation from 6am on Monday June 3 at Royal Brompton when he was told by a surgeon at about 12.30pm that it would not be going ahead.

He told the PA news agency: "The staff on the ward didn't seem to know what had happened, just that many patients were being told to go home and wait for a new date.

"I've been given a date for next Tuesday and am crossing my fingers - it's not the first time that they have cancelled, they did it on May 28 too, but that was probably staff shortages in half-term week."

A spokesman for King's College Hospital in London confirmed it was affected by a “ransomware cyber attack”.

In a statement the hospital said: “This is having a significant impact on the delivery of NHS services in our hospitals, as well as across partner organisations in mental health, community and primary care services across south east London.

“Regrettably some patient care is having to be cancelled or redirected to other providers as urgent care is prioritised. We apologise for the inconvenience this is causing to patients and their families.

“People should continue to attend appointments unless contacted, and our Emergency Department remains open for urgent and emergency care.

“We are working urgently with the appropriate organisations to fully understand the impact of this incident and take the appropriate action, and will continue to provide updates on our website.”All hospitals have been approached for comment.According to the Health Service Journal (HSJ), as senior source said gaining access to pathology results could take "weeks, not days".

There are suggestions that urgent and emergency care at the hospitals will be affected as they may not be able to access quick-turnaround blood test results.

In 2021, it was announced that SynLab would partner with the NHS to deliver pathology services at hospitals and GP services across south-east London.

As well as serving King's, and Guys' and St Thomas', the pathology service also caters for South London and Maudsley and Oxleas NHS Foundation Trusts and a number of GP practices, clinics and other community services across the boroughs of Bromley, Lambeth and Southwark.

Pathology services help with the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and infections by analysing samples including blood and tissue.

A spokesperson for NHS England London region said: “On Monday 3 June Synnovis, a provider of lab services, was the victim of a ransomware cyber attack.

“This is having a significant impact on the delivery of services at Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts and primary care services in south east London and we apologise for the inconvenience this is causing to patients and their families.

“Emergency care continues to be available, so patients should access services in the normal way by dialling 999 in an emergency and otherwise using 111, and patients should continue to attend appointments unless they are told otherwise.

“We will continue to provide updates for local patients and the public about the impact on services and how they can continue to get the care they need.“We are working urgently to fully understand the impact of the incident with the support of the government’s National Cyber Security Centre and our Cyber Operations team.”

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