Blood donation

NHS launches blood donation plea in aftermath of ransomware attack

England’s top health officials have come together to launch a call for blood donors in the aftermath of the ransomware attack at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital trusts.

It was confirmed last week that on Monday 3 June a cyberattack has impacted all of Synnovis’ IT systems, leading to appointments and procedures having to be cancelled.

The attack means the affected hospitals cannot match people’s blood at the same frequency, so for surgeries and procedures requiring blood to take place, they will need elevated levels of O type blood — O- as it is the universal blood type and can be given to anyone as well as O+ as it is the most common blood type.

NHS Blood and Transplant’s chief medical officer, Dr Gail Miflin, explained: “Patient safety is our absolute priority. When hospitals do not know a patient’s blood type or cannot match their blood, it is safe to use O type blood.

“To support London hospitals to carry out more surgeries and to provide the best care we can for all patients, we need more O Negative and O Positive donors than usual.”

The attack on Synnovis — which is a collaboration between the two aforementioned hospital trusts and SYBLAB UK & Ireland — has seen the Information Commissioner, National Cyber Security Centre and NHS England (NHSE) get involved to minimise disruption. Primary care services throughout south east London have been affected too.

Paul O'Brien comment

An NHS London spokesperson confirmed over the weekend that leaders are still working with hospitals and GP services to fully understand the extent of the disruption.

They said: “NHS staff are working around the clock to minimise the significant disruption to patient care following the ransomware cyber-attack and we are sorry to all those who have been impacted.

“Pathology services are integral to a wide range of treatments and we know that a number of operations and appointments have been cancelled due to this attack.”

“NHS staff are continuing to go above and beyond to minimise the significant disruption to patients following the ransomware cyber-attack on Synnovis earlier this week,” said NHSE’s medical director, Professor Sir Stephen Powis.

He added: “But unfortunately, we know that a number of operations and appointments have been postponed or diverted to other neighbouring hospitals not impacted by the cyber-attack, as we prioritise pathology services for the most clinically urgent cases.”

There will be around 13,000 appointments available nationally this week alone in NHS blood donation centres, with 3,400 of those in London.

The calls comes at the start of National Blood Week.

Image credit: iStock

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