Police investigate Isle hospital cyber attack

Scunthorpe General Hospital.
Scunthorpe General Hospital.

Police are investigating after an attack an Isle hospital’s computer system led to thousands of patients having their operations and appointments cancelled.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG) called a major incident on Sunday October 30 after a virus infected their systems.

The trust, which runs Scunthorpe General Hospital and Goole and District Hospital, cancelled most appointments and operations on Monday October 31 and Tuesday November 1.

Some appointments in speciality areas, such as audiology physiological measurements, antenatal, community and therapy, chemotherapy, paediatrics and gynaecology went ahead as planned on Wednesday November 2.

The situation was monitored hourly and services resumed across all departments at all three hospitals on Thursday November 3.

Now, West Yorkshire’s cyber crime unit are investigating.

Dr Karen Dunderdale, deputy chief executive, said at the time if the incident: “A virus infected our electronic systems on Sunday and we have taken the decision, following expert advice, to shut down the majority of our systems so we can isolate and destroy it.”

“Our main priority is patient safety. A major incident has been called and all planned operations, outpatient appointments and diagnostic procedures have been cancelled for Monday and Tuesday.

“ All adult patients (over 18) should presume their appointment/procedure has been cancelled unless they are contacted. Those who turn up will be turned away.”

“Inpatients will continue to be cared for and discharged as soon as they are medically fit. Major trauma cases will be diverted to neighbouring hospitals as will high risk women in labour.”

“While our emergency departments remain open and are accepting ambulances, we would urge people to only visit if they absolutely need to, i/e if it is an accident or emergency.

“If you are unwell and unsure where to go for treatment call 111 for North Lincs or 01472 256256 for North East Lincs.”

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said: “We are aware of the incident and are working closely with the NHS Foundation Trust as enquiries continue.”

DCI Vanessa Smith added: “Officers from the regional cyber crime team and Humberisde Police have been out to the trust this week and have been working closely with them to help provide protection against any future attacks.

“We are working with all relevant law enforcement agencies as our criminal investigation continues.”

A spokesman for the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust said it was not possible to say how many patients had been affected by the incident due to the varying number of appointments and operations carried out each day.

“We don’t have any official figures, but on average there are 1,000 outpatient appointments a day and 50 to 100 operations a day,” they said.