Computer outage leaves hospital in chaos

A network failure left a Norfolk hospital staff unable to access patient record systems for over four days.

The problems started at Dereham Hospital in Norfolk from last Thursday and lasted through to Monday. There was a second breakdown of the system on Wednesday this week.

Initially, the problems were blamed on SystmOne, one of the systems in the National Programme for IT system that is being deployed through Trusts in the North, Midland and East. SystmOne has been rolled out to Dereham Hospital in the last few weeks.

But NHS Norfolk said the fault was due to a network failure from supplier BT. While the SystmOne computer system was affected, it was not the cause.

A spokesperson from NHS Norfolk said: "The issue was caused by a BT network failure on Thursday 20 November, which both BT engineers and NHS engineers worked together to correct. The computer systems were functional again on Monday 24 November."

But the spokesperson said the hospital may not have been the only building affected by the fault.

"During the period when computer systems were unavailable, a back-up paper system contingency plan was used to keep patient disruption to a minimum.

"Every attempt was made to ensure that the patients were not inconvenienced by the delay in processing their details and patient safety was maintained."

The outpatient services were worst hit, with wards less dependent on computers.

The community hospital has 24 rehabilitation beds and provides outpatient physiotherapy to a wide area of mid and north Norfolk.

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