Welwyn Hatfield health chiefs confident hospitals are better prepared following cyber attacks

PUBLISHED: 17:13 22 May 2017 | UPDATED: 17:18 22 May 2017

New QEII Hospital

New QEII Hospital

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Health chiefs have insisted that Welwyn Garden City's New QEII Hospital and the Lister in Stevenage are prepared to deal with cyber threats following the attacks earlier this month.

Borough and county councillor Lynn ChestermanBorough and county councillor Lynn Chesterman

East and North Herts NHS Trust (ENH) was one of thousands of organisations to be struck by a worldwide hacking operation, which exposed the fragility of their online security.

The attack resulted in hundreds of appointments being cancelled and paramedics being diverted to other specialist hospitals.

But a spokeswoman for the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We regularly run emergency planning exercises with the East and North Herts NHS Trust to practise for a range of different situations.

“We are therefore confident that the trust has robust arrangements in place to help manage incidents of this nature.

“These arrangements were put into action following the international cyber attack, which affected a number of private and public sector organisations.”

However, the incident raised concerns over how prepared the trust was, with some spectators fearing it could happen again.

Borough and county councillor Lynn Chesterman, whose scheduled operation was cancelled last week, said: “I’m not convinced that they are prepared.

“In my eyes they have spent the last week ‘fire fighting’ and trying to do a great job under dreadful circumstances.

“The staff have been brilliant ensuring patient safety, but it raises questions, ones that we raised years ago, as to whether Lister can cope since the demise of the QEII as a proper hospital.”

She also questioned why the IT system at the New QEII Hospital was not adequately re-evaluated before the attack, and claimed a similar incident could cost lives.

ENH services have now all returned to normal, and a statement on its website confirmed that all appointments will now go ahead as planned.

The message continued: “The trust is very grateful for the support and understanding that it has received from patients and the wider public during this time as our staff have worked very hard to return our IT systems to normal, whilst at the same time ensuring patients continued to receive high quality care.”

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