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Daily Blood Tests In London Hospitals Down From 10,000 To 400 Post Synnovis Ransomware Attack

Services including blood transfusions reportedly remain severely disrupted at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital and King's College Hospital

by Mihir Bagwe June 13th, 2024

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In the aftermath of the Synnovis ransomware attack that struck last week, London hospitals continue to struggle to deliver patient care at an optimal level.

The attack on the pathology services provider has brought down the daily blood sampling count in major London hospitals from 10,000 to merely 400 per day, according to Synnovis.

“Urgent requests are severely restricted at around 400 a day. Historically primary care and community services have generated around 10,000 samples a day for testing, which gives you an idea of the scale of the impact.” – Synnovis

Services including blood transfusions reportedly remain severely disrupted at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and King’s College Hospital. Both hospitals are experiencing disruption of pathology services, particularly blood tests.

Blood Testing Severely Impacted After Synnovis Ransomware Attack

The biggest challenge that Synnovis is currently facing is that all its automated end-to-end laboratory processes are offline since all IT systems have been locked down in response to the ransomware attack.

“This means we are having to log all samples manually when they arrive, select each test manually on analyzers and, once tests have been processed, type in each result on the laboratory’s computer system (the Laboratory Information Management System – LIMS),” Synnovis said.

And this is not the end of it. Synnovis then must manually deliver these results to the Trust’s IT system so that the results can be further electronically submitted back to the requester. But since the Synnovis’ LIMS is presently disconnected from the Trusts’ IT systems, “this extensive manual activity takes so much time that it severely limits the number of pathology tests we can process at the moment,” Synnovis explained.

The pathology service provider normally processes around 10,000 primary care blood samples a day, but at the moment is managing only up to 400 from across all six boroughs. “Despite the measures we know colleagues are taking to prioritize the most urgent samples, we are receiving many more than we can process and we have an increasing backlog,” Synnovis said.

The lab services provider last week was able to process around 3,000 Full Blood Count samples but could not export results due to the lack of IT connectivity. “Of those tests processed, we have phoned through all results that sit outside of critical limits, however, we have been unable to return any results electronically and are unlikely to be able to do so,” Synnovis said.

The impact of the Synnovis ransomware attack is also felt on NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), as it appealed to the public earlier this week to urgently donate O blood-type (+ve and -ve) across England. The attack caused significant disruption on the hospitals’ ability to match patients’ blood types, leading to an increased demand for O-positive and O-negative blood donations that are medically considered safe for all patients.

Will Process only ‘Clinically Critical’ Blood Samples

To manage the inadequacy of the services, the service provider is momentarily only accepting blood samples that the requesting clinician considers to be “clinically critical.”

Clinicians need to consider a test as “critical” only if a test result is needed within 24 hours to determine a patient’s urgent treatment or care plan. “As experts, your clinical view of what is considered ‘critical’ will be accepted by the laboratory, but we urge you to apply this definition carefully, given the severe capacity limitations we are facing,” Synnovis recommended.

Source: Synnovis

The pathology service provider is also working with NHS Trust to install laptops at the hub laboratory, which will give them access to the Trust IT systems to return test results electronically.

Caregivers Working Overtime

Doctors and caregivers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and King’s College Hospital have been putting in extra hours since the Synnovis ransomware attack disrupted services last week. But this is not enough, as KCH has already cancelled some of its operations and is working only at about 70% capacity. Three of its 17 operating theatres remain shut, BBC reported.


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