NHS Lothian issues apology after patients turned away as Edinburgh Western General hospital's IT system crashed

NHS Lothian has been forced to apologise after a “historic day” where patients were turned away from appointments, test results were unattainable and hospital staff were forced to stay behind well into the evening.

Patients arriving at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital on Wednesday were told that test results could not be given out, and appointments would need to be rescheduled, as the hospital’s IT system had crashed and healthcare staff had no access to records.

One patient said they were told by a consultant this was a “historic day”, and patients travelling through the torrential rain “from as far away as Linlithgow” would need to be turned back.

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Healthcare staff were issued with paper forms, and forced to take notes in longhand.

Edinburgh's Western General Hospital
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The admission prompted the patient to ask how long it would take staff to update records.

A consultant said “it would take ages”, and that Western General staff would have to stay behind to update the hospital’s records once the IT systems were brought back online, well into the evening.

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Jacquie Campbell, chief officer in acute services at NHS Lothian, said, “On Wednesday, November 2, we experienced some issues with some of our IT systems.

“Our expert teams were quick to identify the problem and to carry out a fix, with full functionality being restored within three-and-a-half hours.

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“This issue did not impact medical devices, nor did it result in cancellations of planned or emergency surgeries.

“A small number of outpatient clinics were postponed, as the clinical information required to support consultations was not accessible.

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"We apologise to those patients affected and offer our assurance that appointments will be rescheduled as quickly as possible.

“As is standard across the NHS, we have robust contingency plans in place to respond to a variety of situations.

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"It is normal and best practice for staff to follow contingency plan guidance if required.”

The IT system crash coincided with a storm front hitting Edinburgh and the Lothians on Wednesday, with the region hit by wind and rain driven by Storm Claudio.

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