Colchester hospital still asking patients to avoid A&E unless absolutely necessary after NHS cyber attack yesterday

PUBLISHED: 09:12 13 May 2017 | UPDATED: 17:10 13 May 2017

Colchester General Hospital has been affected by the NHS cyber hack. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Colchester General Hospital has been affected by the NHS cyber hack. Picture: GREGG BROWN

People are still being warned not to attend the A&E department at Colchester Hospital unless its is absolutely essential after yesterday’s cyber attack on the NHS.

CEO of the hospital Nick Hulme repeated his call for people not to visit unless it was absolutely necessary as “many systems” were “still down”.

But he added anyone who had a genuine need to attended A&E would still be seen.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Saturday afternoon that only six of the 48 hospitals affected by the hack had still to overcome the problems. Mr Hulme said Colchester was still working on the issue and he understood Broomfield Hospital at Chelmsford was in the same position.

Colchester hospital is hoping to restore all its computer systems by Saturday evening but it could take longer for things to return to normal.

On Friday Colchester General and James Paget University hospitals were targeted in a major nationwide NHS cyber attack.

The NHS was been plunged into chaos across the country, as IT systems broke and emergency patients were diverted to other areas.

Ipswich Hospital confirmed it was not been affected by the virus. It is understood the hospital has taken a number of precautionary measures to safeguard against any cyber attack.

NHS Digital said 16 organisations within the health service had seen their IT systems affected by a ransomware attack, using malware called “Wanna Decryptor”.

Photo of a computer at Greater Preston CCG as the NHS is investigating 'an issue with IT' amid reports of a cyber attack on its systems. Picture: @fendifille/Twitter/PA Wire Photo of a computer at Greater Preston CCG as the NHS is investigating 'an issue with IT' amid reports of a cyber attack on its systems. Picture: @fendifille/Twitter/PA Wire

All GP surgeries in east and west Suffolk were advised to shut down their computer systems at around 3pm as a precautionary measure, an Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG spokesman said. The GP surgeries and the CCG itself have not been affected by the virus.

A statement on Colchester General Hospital’s Facebook page read: “Today (Friday, 12 May 2017), the trust has experienced a major IT problem, believed to be caused by the cyber attack.

“Immediately on discovery of the problem, the trust acted to protect its IT systems by shutting them down.

“Therefore, we are postponing all non-urgent activity for today and we are asking people not to come to A&E. Please ring NHS111 for urgent medical advice or 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

“People should use A&E only for critical or life-threatening situations requiring medical attention, such as loss of consciousness, heavy blood loss, suspected broken bones, persistent chest pain, difficulty breathing, overdoses, signs of a stroke, ingestion or poisoning. Avoid visiting A&E unless absolutely necessary.”

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds has not responded to requests for comment. Its website appears to be down. According to reports, the hospital has been unaffected by the cyber attack but extra security measures are in place.

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust said it has not been affected.

At the JPUH, head of communications Ann Filby said they were not asking accident and emergency patients to go elsewhere, but they had reverted to a paper system.

She said: “We’ve got well-trained processes in place. We have not got to that stage [of asking patients to go elsewhere], we’ve gone to the paper system and there’s no impact on patients at the moment.”

The hack looks to be what is known as ransomware where malicious hackers break into computers and only allow access back when enough money is paid.

Some issues were thought to be caused by protective measures - such as shutting down systems - rather than the attack itself.

Mid Essex CCG tweeted: “We are aware of an IT issue affecting some NHS computer systems. Patients are asked for understanding whilst the issue is resolved.

“We’re aware of an IT issue affecting NHS computer systems. Please do not attend A&E unless it’s an emergency. Thank you for your patience.”

An NHS Digital spokesman said: “At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed.

“We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this.”

He added the attack “was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors”.

Pictures posted on social media showed screens of NHS computers with images demanding payment of 300 US dollars worth of the online currency Bitcoin, saying: “Ooops, your files have been encrypted!”

It adds: “Maybe you are looking for a way to recover your files, but do not waste your time.”

It demands payment in three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received in seven days the files will be deleted.

Hospitals and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in London, Blackpool, Hertfordshire and Derbyshire were among those to report problems.

St Barts Health NHS Trust, which runs The Royal London, St Bartholomew’s, Whipps Cross and Newham hospitals in London, said it had implemented its major incident plan to cope with disruption.

A statement from Provide Community Interest Company, which runs community health services in mid-Essex, said: “Provide Community Interest Company delivers community health services in mid Essex and some of its IT systems have been affected by the NHS cyber-attack.

“We have made plans to enable us to continue to deliver services as far as possible over the weekend and next week.

“Should you be expecting a nurse or a staff member from Provide and they do not arrive within one hour of your appointment time please call 111.”

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