NHS cyber attack sees more than 1,500 operations and appointments cancelled in London

Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital in London has been affected by the attack (PA Wire)
Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital in London has been affected by the attack (PA Wire)

More than 1,500 operations and appointments have been cancelled in a week at two London NHS trusts affected by a Russian cyberattack on a pathology firm, new figures have revealed.

King’s College Hospital NHS Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Trust declared a critical incident and were unable to carry out blood transfusions after the attack on Synnovis on June 3.

Qilin, a Russian group of cyber criminals, is understood to have been behind the attack which has brought routine care to a standstill in parts of the capital.

On Friday, NHS London revealed that the attack had caused a “significant reduction in the number of tests which can be processed and reported back to clinical teams”.

Both King’s and Guy’s were forced to rearrange more than 800 planned operations and 700 outpatient appointments in the week after the attack, according to NHS London figures.

Of these, 97 were cancer treatments and 814 were elective procedures.

However, NHS London stressed that the “majority of planned activity has continued to go ahead, with some specialities impacted more than other”.

They urged patients to continue to attend planned appointments as normal unless they are contacted by the Trust.

Synnovis was formed from a partnership between SynLab UK and Ireland, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

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.

NHS London said the firm was focused on the “technical recovery of the system” and that plans were in place to restore some functionality “in the weeks to come”.

But they added: “Full technical restoration will take some time, however, and the need to re-book tests and appointments will mean some disruption from the cyber incident will continue to be felt over coming months.”

Dr Chris Streather, Medical Director for NHS London, said: “Having treatment postponed is distressing for patients and their families, and we apologise to all those who have been impacted, and staff will work hard to re-arrange appointments and treatments as quickly as possible.

“While staff are working round the clock to mitigate the impact and Synnovis is working to recover its IT system, we expect disruption to be felt for some time.

“Sites impacted are continuing to prioritise the most urgent care, so please use services in the normal way by dialling 999 in an emergency and otherwise use NHS 111 through the NHS App, online or on the phone.”

St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs several hospitals in south London, has accepted a number of patients from the affected hospitals to mitigate the impact of the attack.

An incident management room has been set up at the Trust to manage requests and share information more easily.

The attack has also severely impacted GPs in south and south east London, who are unable to carry out routine blood tests.