A hospital based in the United Kingdom has cancelled all planned operations and appointments following a computer virus infection.
On 31 October, the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG) posted a statement on its website. In it, the hospital explains a computer virus affected its electronic systems on 30 October and forced it to shut down several parts of its network.
As a result, NLAG decided to temporarily suspend many of the healthcare services that it offers. According to its statement:
"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 today (Tuesday). All patients should presume their appointment/procedure has been cancelled unless they are contacted. Those who turn up will be turned away."
The hospital goes on to say it will continue to care for its inpatients, though it will be diverting trauma cases and high-risk women in labor to neighboring facilities.
NLAG isn't the only healthcare facility that's diverted patients to other hospitals as a result of a computer attack. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Southern California did just that after a ransomware attack affected its computer systems back in February 2016.
At first, an internal source at the hospital said attackers demanded a ransom payment of 9,000 Bitcoin (approximately 3.6 million USD) from Hollywood Presbyterian. Officials later said that amount was wrong and revealed the actual ransom was only 40 Bitcoin (around 17,000 USD), a demand which the hospital ultimately fulfilled.
Other healthcare centers like Ottawa Hospital have also suffered digital attacks, but many of those haven't had a significant impact on their victims' operations.
Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG) is committed to resolving the issue as soon as possible:
"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."
In the meantime, people should visit NLAG only in the event of an accident or an emergency.