Virus downs London hospitals

Three London hospitals have had to shut down most of their computer systems after being struck by a virus.

Three London hospitals have had to shut down most of their computer systems after being struck by a virus.

St Bartholomew's (Barts) in the City of London, the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel and The London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green are all part of the same NHS trust — Barts and The London — and have all been affected.

The virus first hit on Monday afternoon in the UK, according to a spokesperson for the Trust. "The IT department put in place procedures to counter the virus, and at close of business yesterday, they believed they had contained the virus," the spokesperson said on Tuesday afternoon.

"When staff logged on this morning, it proved that the virus was more widespread than previously thought [and] we closed down all but the essential areas of the system." The spokesperson did not identify the virus.

The essential areas that have been left up and running include the systems for accident and emergency, intensive care and pathology. The spokesperson for Barts and The London was unable to say when the rest of the Trust's systems would be back up and running.

In a statement, the Trust stressed that "well-rehearsed emergency procedures have been activated to ensure that key clinical systems continue while network access is being established".

"We have maintained a safe environment for our patients throughout the incident," the statement read. "Manual backup systems are in use, and we are in the process of restoring the computer systems with priority being given to the most important areas for maintaining patients' services.

Operating theatres and outpatients departments have remained operational throughout the incident, though some non-essential activities have been scaled back." Patients with appointments should turn up as planned, the Trust said, although those needing transport services to or from their appointments will probably find those services disrupted by difficulties with computer systems.

"Any patients with urgent concerns about their appointment should contact the trust on 020 7943 1335, which is manned between 9am and 8pm today and tomorrow," the statement read.