Scottish hospitals in emergency recovery after IT virus

Two Scottish hospitals have been knocked out of normal operation by a computer virus, sending key functions back to pen and paper.

The virus, which is still unknown, affected laboratory systems for two days from last Wednesday lunchtime at the Stobhill and Gartnavel General hospitals in the Greater Glasgow area. As a result twelve cancer patients attending the hospitals will have to have their vital treatment rescheduled, reports stated.

Experts are now assessing whether the virus was the Mytob virus that hit the Barts, Royal London and London Chest hopsitals in the English capital five months ago, it was reported.

NHS Glasgow and Clyde spokespeople were unable to tell Computerworld UK if the virus had been eliminated and if systems were restored.

A senior staff member at Gartnavel General Hospital last week told the Herald newspaper: "They are calling it a worm and when they identify it it burrows deeper into the system and duplicates itself and it is getting through some very strong firewalls.

"We just can't access the computer systems at all. They are completely shut down."

In a statement in the paper last week, the trust claimed the virus had no impact on patient care other than the 12 appointments that were rescheduled. "Arrangements have already been made for all of these patients to be given speedy alternative appointments," the statement read.

Alan Bentley, vice president at IT security firm Lumension, said there was a high danger that such viruses could allow hackers to execute unauthorised programs. Further steps should be taken by organisations to reduce the impact of viruses, he said, by "restricting which applications can execute on an endpoint or server, with the use of application control, also known as white-listing".

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