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Revealed: The inside story of how Redbridge's NHS trust responded to the cyber attack

PUBLISHED: 16:17 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:17 17 May 2017

A patient appointment letter from a London NHS hospital, next to a virus and spyware warning message on a laptop screen at a home in London, following a major cyber attack on NHS computer systems. Picture: Yui Mok/PA

A patient appointment letter from a London NHS hospital, next to a virus and spyware warning message on a laptop screen at a home in London, following a major cyber attack on NHS computer systems. Picture: Yui Mok/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Redbridge's NHS trust managed to avoid the worst effects of Friday's cyber attack by taking systems offline immediately, the Recorder can reveal.

Shortly after 3pm Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) IT staff realised that a small number of PCs were infected by the ransomware.

In only his third week in the job, information management and technology director Tom Moore organised for all of the trust’s operation systems to be brought offline.

“We locked down many different systems to protect our critical services,” he told the Recorder.

“By closing down the internet we managed to stop the spread of the virus.”

This prevented BHRUT from being as badly affected as other NHS trusts, such as neighbouring Barts Health, where all the computer systems were locked by the cyber attack, which asked for a ransom in Bitcoin.

Staff at Queen’s Hospital, in Romford, and King George Hospital, in Goodmayes, managed to print off patient records for the next few days, so they did not need to refer to computers.

Both emergency departments were under additional pressure, as patients were diverted from Whipps Cross Hospital.

On Saturday Mr Moore said they discovered blood testing, systems for CT and MRI scans and the main switchboard were infected, but they managed to contain the virus so no other areas were hit.

A small number of appointments were forced to be cancelled.

“Since then we have been testing areas and bringing them back online, but it is all clinically led and not everything was fixed straight away.

“Now we are pretty much back to normal.”

Mr Moore explained Microsoft released a patch for the virus overnight on Friday, and by now it had been applied to all of the computer systems running around the trust.

He also dispelled some rumours which claimed the NHS was hit by the virus as it only used Windows XP

“Most of our PCs use Windows 7, only a few areas use XP and they are complicated systems which are not easy to update.

“None of our computers using XP were infected by the virus.”

Mr Moore added: “The staff have worked really, really hard, the way the entire team managed was phenomenal.

“The important thing to learn from this cyber attack is to stay vigilant.”

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