NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde IT problems fixed

Alex Neil MSP answers questions on the IT issues  on Wednesday. Picture: Scottish Parliamen t
Alex Neil MSP answers questions on the IT issues on Wednesday. Picture: Scottish Parliamen t
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HEALTH bosses at Scotland’s largest health board are hopeful that a major IT problem has been fixed, as the number of patients whose appointments had to be cancelled rose to over 700.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the IT system was operational again following two days of attempts to fix the problem with its server.

With staff unable to access patient records and scans, 709 people had to have appointments put back or treatments such as chemotherapy delayed.

The computer failure led to Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil ordering a review of IT systems across the NHS north of the border.

Robert Calderwood, the chief executive of the health board, confirmed that the computer systems were back up and running.

Technicians had been working to restore the clinical and administrative systems at the health board since Tuesday, when the fault was discovered.

Staff from the two software companies involved, Microsoft and Charteris, had been working with staff from the health board and the Scottish Government to get to the root of the problem.

By Wednesday afternoon the health board had a “basic level of IT service” which allowed some of the affected areas to start to operate normally again.

Mr Calderwood said: “As of 2am this morning (Thursday) our technical team, supported by Microsoft engineers, have rerun and reprofiled all of the IT systems that were affected and they are all operational as we speak.

“Clearly as the hospitals and departments busy up and more and more users come onto the system, that will be the test, but as we stand at the moment all systems are operational.”


He said the problem was caused when a key programme on the computer system became corrupted over the weekend.

“This was a corruption of a software programme, which therefore moved from server to server,” Mr Calderwood said.

“In the last 48 hours we had interactions with 10,700 patients and we have only had to cancel, as of last night, 709 patients. We unreservedly apologise, and I personally apologise to those 709 patients.

“But almost 10,000 patients treatments went ahead as normal over the last 48 hours.”

Mr Calderwood said: “About 99 per cent of all IT networks across the United Kingdom are built on this programme called Microsoft active directory, and Microsoft we have been working with for over 10 years and this is the first time we have had a fault. Microsoft themselves say they have never had such a fault reported across many years in all of their business areas.

“To that extent the issue for us is now to identify how the software programme became corrupted and make sure if there are lessons to be learned we do take these on board and increase our resilience and our back-up.”

On Wednesday Mr Neil told MSPs at Holyrood that he had “instructed a robust review right across the National Health Service in Scotland with all NHS boards to make sure that these systems are robust and the back-up systems are robust”.

The health board has already pledged that everything possible will be done to ensure those patients who have had their treatment delayed can be seen “at the earliest possible opportunity”.