COLUMN: Thank you for your understanding since the cyber attack

Jan Sobieraj
Jan Sobieraj

Following last weekend’s cyber attack on health services, which affected systems across United Lincolnshire Hospital’s Trust, the chief executive Jan Sobieraj has written a letter of thanks.

I want to say a huge thank you to all our patients for their understanding and patience since Friday, May 12, 2017 when our services were disrupted due to the international cyber-attack.

Following the cyber-attack, ULHT took quick action to close down all of our systems. This prevented the spread of the attack and limited the impact. Despite us having around 6,000 devices and servers and over 300 systems linked with local GPs and other trusts, only a handful of devices and servers were actually infected with the virus.

I would like to reassure all of our patients and staff that none of our data was compromised and no patient data was lost or affected. ULHT has previously installed the Windows patch which has been well documented in the media, and there is no evidence that any particular equipment or software had been especially affected.

The disruption caused by the cyber-attack has not been easy on our patients, nor on staff. Unfortunately, our decisive action meant we had to cancel many procedures and clinics. This impacted on our patients and their families and will have led to some people being anxious and upset with delays in their care.

The cyber-attack meant our staff could not access patient records, scans, results and blood tests so it would have been unsafe to carry out routine appointments and operations. For example, with a patient scheduled for a hip replacement, the operating team could not see their previous scans, tests and blood results or any patient notes and so it would not have been safe to carry out the procedure. We had to prioritise those patients who required emergency care. However, we know that we need to reschedule these cancelled appointments and we have already seen some and our staff are now working really hard to rebook the remaining patients as quickly as possible.

We are also grateful that so many of you stayed away from our A&E departments so our staff could concentrate on the really sick patients in the department.

I also want to say a huge public thank you to all of our staff who have worked tirelessly since Friday afternoon to get services and IT systems up and running – everyone has been amazing. Many staff, including IT, clinical engineering, operations, emergency planning, admin staff, clinical staff, directors and communications worked late into the night on Friday and all over the weekend to get systems back up and running as quickly as possible. Thank you to all staff for their hard work, support and patience during this difficult time.