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NHS Tayside patients left without medication for hours following ‘cyber threat’

Tayside patients were left without medication for four hours after a “cyber threat” which led to prescriptions not being printed.

NHS Tayside bosses were warned of an “international security threat” over the weekend but attempts to protect the health board’s IT system led to printing problems.

Anyone in need of urgent medication was advised to contact a pharmacy, with some patients told they could not collect their prescriptions.

Around 2pm, a spokeswoman for NHS Tayside said: “We have been informed that all issues with printing have been resolved.”

Hours earlier, NHS Tayside confirmed there had been an issue after measures put in place as a result of expert advice.

A spokeswoman said: “Following an alert about an international cyber security threat over the weekend, NHS Tayside’s digital team quickly put in place counter measures as recommended by the National Cyber Security Centre.

“These counter measures had a minor impact and are delaying printing of patient prescriptions in some GP practices.

“Our digital team is working with GP practices to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

“GP Practices have business continuity plans in place to ensure patients are not adversely affected and people should continue to use GP services in the usual way.

“If patients have any concerns they should contact their GP practice for further advice.”

Reviewing level of protection

She added: “NHS Tayside takes IT security and data protection very seriously.

“We continually monitor and review our level of protection and invest in IT security defences to ensure we continue to provide a robust and secure IT infrastructure.”

Speaking before the issue was resolved, one female patient was told she could not collect her prescription on Monday morning.

“I called my GP surgery this morning to order some more medicine because I ran out over the weekend,” she told The Courier.

“I was shocked when the receptionist told me ‘no’ because there is some issue at the moment with printing the prescriptions out.

“This means I’m going to have to go a few days now without any medicine and I’m really worried I’ll get unwell because of it.

“It’s also frustrating to know the medicine is sitting there at the chemist only a few streets away but I can’t get to it because of a printing issue.

“The receptionist said it was an issue all over Tayside, so there will be so many people who are going to be forced to go without because of this.”

‘People need to be alerted’

Dorothy McHugh, secretary of Dundee Pensioner’s Forum, said it was important any patients affected by the printing problems – particularly elderly people who weren’t on social media – were made aware before they ran out of medicine.

She said: “The issue here is how people will know there might be a problem coming up and possibly a delay in getting their repeat prescription.

“People need to be alerted so they can make contact in good time and not be left without needed medication.

“It’s about communication. NHS Tayside needs to alert those who might be affected – and not just through Twitter and Facebook.”

Cost of prescriptions to NHS Tayside surges by £12m amid ‘extraordinary pressures’

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