Scottish NHS board's "major" IT problems enter second day


One of the UK's largest NHS boards has confirmed that hundreds of outpatient appointments have been postponed due to a "major IT problem."

The NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde board said the issue affects the way staff access clinical and administrative systems, and has been ongoing since yesterday.

In healthcare, any IT failure really can be a matter of life and death.

Further to this, the problem has also caused delays to switchboard calls being answered.

"As a result, we have had to postpone a number of operations, chemotherapy sessions and outpatient appointments," the organisation said in a statement.

"In total we have postponed, 288 outpatient appointments, four planned inpatient procedures, 23 day cases [and] 40 chemotherapy sessions."

In a follow-up statement, the organisation said it had been working through the night to fix the problem, but as yet it remains unresolved.

"We have, however, been able to put in place a fix which we believe will ensure that chemotherapy patients are not affected by the continued IT issue," the statement read.

"Unfortunately, there will still be some patients whose planned appointments today will be affected and we are currently in the process of assessing which patients this will impact upon.

"We are continuing to work to get the system back on line as soon as possible and would like to apologise again to those patients who have been inconvenienced."

The board serves a population of 1.2 million people, and oversees the running of more than 300 GP surgeries and 35 hospitals in the area.

Tola Sargeant, a director at analyst house TechMarketView, said the board's problems should serve as a warning to other healthcare organisations about the shortcomings of technology.

"It is too early to say what caused the issue and whether it could have been prevented. Once the problem is resolved, the board's suppliers and in-house team alike will have time to reflect on the lessons learnt," she said.

"If nothing else, [the] problems ought to act as a stark warning to other NHS organisations about the importance of having the right backup and disaster recovery plans in place. In healthcare, any IT failure really can be a matter of life and death."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.