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University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

IT failure at UCLH closed A&E unit and led to surgery cancellation

PERFORMANCE: University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust had to cancel operations and close an accident and emergency department to blue light traffic as a result of an IT failure.

In his report to the board on 9 March, chief executive Sir Robert Naylor said that during the incident on 2 February, computers across the trust were unable to access “most of our systems”.

The problem was caused by a faulty network switch, the report said, and caused “extensive” impact on hospital services, with operations cancelled at University College Hospital and the Heart Hospital, and “the closure of A&E to blue light traffic”.

Sir Robert said it took “considerable time” for the trust’s IT team, working with external experts, to identify the faulty component, in an extremely complex operation.

Sir Robert said: “As designed, some systems automatically switched over to the backup systems located in our disaster recovery centre.

“However, this made no difference to their availability as PCs were still unable to gain access as a result of the severe network performance issue. It should be stressed therefore that the data centre itself worked as intended and was not part of the problem.”

He told the board that the trust is now undertaking a full investigation of the network design and individual components, to check whether there are design issues that need to be addressed, and to establish whether any remaining equipment is of the same age and configuration.

An external lead investigator is being appointed from RSM Tenon.

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