Technical issues have been blamed for a ‘major incident’ that caused outages across NHS systems in Wales and Manchester yesterday, with doctors and hospital staff unable to access online clinical systems.
As healthcare providers struggled to continue services without access to electronic records, patients were urged to attend emergency departments only for serious or life-threatening emergencies.
The National Cyber Security Centre told the BBC hacking was not to blame for the widespread failure, which prevented clinical staff from accessing patient details such as blood tests and X-Rays.
Manchester Royal Infirmary, Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and St Mary's Hospital were all hit by the network outage, as were the healthcare services provided by the NHS across Wales.
At the time of the outage, chairman of the British Medical Association’s Welsh council Dr David Bailey said at least half of GP services had been been affected.
"We are concerned to hear that NHS Wales' computer systems have been affected by a technical issue. BMA Cymru Wales has heard reports from some members that they are experiencing issues affecting emails, the internet and other systems, in both primary and secondary care,” Bailey said.
"This will no doubt cause a major disruption to the NHS at a time when demand is already unprecedented.”
The healthcare system in the UK is currently overstretched due to winter ailments including a virulent strain of Australian flu.
Systems were restored after the delivery of healthcare services had been disrupted for hours, with the Welsh Government's Department of Health and Social Services claiming data privacy had not been compromised.
"The NHS Wales Informatics Service have confirmed that all systems are now back although there may be a backlog affecting some areas. They have assured us that there were no data security issues."
The system failure comes less than a year after the May 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack brought down NHS IT networks throughout England and Scotland, infecting up to 70,000 devices such as MRI scanners. That global cyberhack – which affected systems in 150 countries – caused widespread chaos with surgeries cancelled and ambulances diverted.
NHS hospitals in Wales were unaffected by WannaCry.
The cause of this latest network outage is under investigation.