UK Heatwave causes IT Systems meltdown at London NHS Trust
On Tuesday 19 July, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust (GSTT) which is one of the NHS’s biggest hospital trusts had to cancel operations after their IT systems overheated due to extreme temperatures.
On that fateful day, UK temperatures hit a record-breaking 40°C causing a meltdown at both of the trust’s data centres, one which is located at Guy's Hospital and the other at Thomas. Sources say that the air conditioning units put up to cool them stopped working.
The London-based trust had no other option but to halt operations and postpone appointments. Seriously ill patients and other emergency cases were transferred to other hospitals within the capital.
The systems have been out for days forcing doctors to manually write the results of all examinations. The disruptions have also made it impossible for departments within the hospital to communicate seamlessly. The doctors can’t remotely access the results of tests such as CT and MRI scans and thus have to call the involved departments on the telephone.
Also since the medics cannot access patient records online, patients have been advised to bring with them, papers or documents about their appointment to minimise delays.
A source at the hospital had this to say about the condition, “This is having a major effect. We are back to using paper and can’t see any existing electronic notes. We are needing to triage basic tests like blood tests and scans. There’s no access to results apart from over the phone, and of course, the whole hospital is trying to use that line. Frankly, it’s a big patient safety issue and we haven’t been told how long it will take to fix. We are on dive.”
The Trust is keeping the public updated through their Twitter account and as of yesterday, they are still trying to fully restore the systems.
The Trust says that their adult emergency department is currently overwhelmed and cautions patients to only attend if a GP or 111 has advised them to. However, their children’s emergency statement is open for anybody requiring urgent care.
The Trust is now the third organisation in the UK to experience downtime as a result of the ongoing heatwave. Google and Oracle both experienced cooling-related issues with the functioning of their UK data centre regions earlier this week.