• Struggling trust cancels appointments for two days following computer virus
  • Northern Lincolnshire and Goole FT said it will turn away people arriving for planned operations, outpatient appointments and diagnostic procedures
  • A&E open as normal but trust tells people to only come if it is an emergency

A computer virus has forced a struggling hospital trust to declare a major incident and cancel two days of routine operations, appointments and diagnostics.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Foundation Trust said today that it had taken the decision to shut down the majority of its systems after they became infected with a computer virus.

Meanwhile, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust has announced it is also cancelling all planned operations tomorrow (Tuesday) because it shares four clinical IT systems with NLAG.

As a result the trust, which runs hospitals in Grimsby, Scunthorpe and Goole, has cancelled all planned operations, outpatient appointments and diagnostic procedures for 31 October and 1 November. It said anyone arriving at the hospitals for these appointments would be sent away.

Deputy chief executive Karen Dunderdale said the trust’s main concern was patient safety and stressed its accident and emergency departments will stay open.

She said: “A virus infected our electronic systems yesterday and we have taken the decision, following expert advice, to shut down the majority of our systems so we can isolate and destroy it.

“A major incident has been called and all planned operations, outpatient appointments and diagnostic procedures have been cancelled for today and tomorrow.

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

It is the third time in less than a year outpatient appointments have caused concerns for the trust.

A serious incident was declared earlier this month after more than 20,000 outpatients were overdue follow-up appointments. More than 22,600 people last week were overdue outpatient follow-ups, down from 26,600 at the end of August.

It follows the Care Quality Commission issuing a warning in its April inspection report about the “unacceptable delays” of 30,000 overdue for consultations

Ms Dunderdale said all current inpatients will continue to be cared for and discharged as soon as medically fit, while major trauma cases and high risk women in labour will be diverted to neighbouring hospitals.

She added: “While our emergency departments remain open and are accepting ambulances, we would urge people to only visit if they absolutely need to.

“We are reviewing the situation on an hourly basis.

“Our clinicians will continue to see, treat and operate on those patients who would be at significant clinical risk should their treatment be delayed. We would like to apologise to all patients who are affected.”

In a statement released after the announcement from NLGFT, neighbouring United Lincolnshire chief operating officer Mark Brassington said it had shut down the links with the systems it shares with NLGFT as a precautionary measure and would revert to manual systems.

Mr Brassington said the biggest impact would be in processing blood tests, accessing historic results and the availability of blood for transfusions.

He added: “ULHT shares four clinical IT systems with NLAG, so as a precautionary measure to protect ULHT, links with these shared systems have been stopped.

“We have a plan in place to minimise risks to patients which includes reverting to manual systems.

“Our number one priority is keeping patients safe so we are cancelling all planned operations tomorrow unless there is a clinical reason not to.

“We are trying to contact all patients, but patients due to have an operation on Tuesday are being asked to not turn up unless they hear otherwise.”

Updated at 5.30pm on 31 October to reflect the developments at United Lincolnshire trust.