NHS services in Cornwall and Scilly remain ‘under pressure’ after outage

Hospitals and primary care provision were impacted by network problems this week – which were caused by ‘a local issue, not a cyberattack’ – and emergency departments continue to feel the fallout

After suffering “significant IT issues” earlier this week, NHS services in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly continue to be impacted, with patients advised to avoid attending accident and emergency departments if possible.

The NHS Integrated Care System (ICS) for the region announced on Tuesday that hospitals and other care facilities were being disrupted by tech problems – which the announcement stressed were caused by “local issue and not a cyberattack”. As of Tuesday afternoon, the ICS said that staff had “identified the problem and are currently restoring systems”, while activating existing business-continuity measures in the meantime.

By the early evening, the health-service body said that “our IT systems are coming back online after a network outage earlier today, [and] work to restore these will continue throughout this evening and overnight”. While it was expected that some operations and consultations would be rescheduled as a result of the incident, patients were advised to attend appointments unless expressly instructed otherwise.

By Wednesday morning, the ICS issued an update stating that “the majority of our IT issues are now resolved, and we continue to provide all our NHS services”.

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But local citizens were warned that, while all scheduled appointments for the rest of the week would go ahead as planned, the fallout of the tech shutdown is still being felt on emergency care.

“Anyone who has had an appointment postponed yesterday will be contacted directly to agree a new date,” the update said. ““Some areas are still under pressure as a result of the outage, this includes in our emergency department and ambulance handovers. Unless it’s a life or limb threatening emergency, we are asking people to use other services so we can help those who need it the most.”

The outage suffered in Cornwall and Scilly comes as a number of hospitals and primary care facilities in London continue to suffer disruption following a damaging cyberattack on a key provider of pathology services.

The Cornwall and Scilly ICS oversees the work of 15 hospitals and 57 GP surgeries, managing an annual budget of £1bn and serving a population of about 600,000 people.

Sam Trendall

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