All operations at York Hospital have been cancelled this weekend, in the wake of the turmoil caused by the NHS cyber attack.

People are being told ‘Don’t go to hospital unless you absolutely have to’ as IT experts attempt to get the crippled health service computer systems back online.

Computers across the health service became unworkable. York Hospital has been badly hit.

York Hospital

Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is affected by the ransomware attack and the local community is asked to only attend A&E if it is absolutely necessary.

To allow staff to focus on urgent cases, it has been necessary for the Trust to cancel all planned operations and some routine MRI appointments this weekend. These will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

The CCG said appointments with the North Yorkshire Breast Screening Service have also been cancelled this weekend at York, as well as at Catterick, Helmsley, Pickering and Malton. These appointments will also be rescheduled as soon as possible.

Routine outpatient appointments will continue as planned.

“Local services have instigated tried and tested Business Continuity Plans to help keep the NHS open for business,” said Vale of York CCG.

“Health and care organisations are working around the clock to overcome problems in the areas have been affected by the ransomware attack.”

Surgeries hit too

A message on a computer screen informing NHS customers that they are having problems with their IT services. Photograph: Mike Egerton/ PA

GPs’ surgeries across the city were also hit.

Vale of York CCG said these practices have been affected:

  • York Medical Group (Acomb and Monkgate Surgeries)
  • Terrington Surgery, York
  • Unity Health Practice, York – two surgeries affected

NHS Digital has said that at this stage there is no evidence that patient data has been accessed.

The Vale of York CCG said on Saturday morning: “It is hoped that most GP surgeries will be open as normal on Monday morning. Some patients may face longer delays where their practices’ computers have been affected by the cyberattack.”

These were the messages posted by city GP surgeries on Friday:

Unfortunately the practice’s phone lines and computer system are down at the moment, due to a national IT issue.

Please could we ask our patients to call into the practice in person while we await a fix.

– Jorvik Gillygate Medical Practice

We are currently experience a York-wide systems outage.

Please be patient as we try to answer calls and access medical records.

– Priory Medical Group

We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties at all of our surgeries which means we have no access to our computers.

Unfortunately this has affected our system that runs our phones at Water Lane surgery and they have gone down please contact one of our surgeries.

– York Medical Group

Pharmacies and prescriptions
The CCG says York pharmacies are still be available to provide confidential, expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses.

NHS 111
NHS 111, the free NHS non-emergency number is unaffected and remains available. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for urgent medical help or advice, when it is not a life-threatening situation.

People are asked to make NHS 111 their first port of call if they:

  • need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency
  • think they need to go to A&E or need another NHS urgent care service
  • don’t know who to call or can’t contact a GP
  • need health information or reassurance about what to do next

Malware blamed

Hit hard… York Hospital. Photograph © Google Street View

NHS Digital said organisations across England had seen their IT systems affected as of 3.30pm Friday by a ransomware attack.

“The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor,” it said in a statement.

“This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors.

“At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed.

“NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and ensure patient safety is protected.”

‘This is scary’

Pictures posted on social media showed screens of NHS computers with images demanding payment of 300 US dollars worth of the online currency Bitcoin, saying: “Ooops, your files have been encrypted!”

It adds: “Maybe you are looking for a way to recover your files, but do not waste your time.”

It demands payment in three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received in seven days the files will be deleted.

Jacqueline Brown, a medical secretary at the York trust, said: “This is really quite scary. No work could be done from three o’clock.”