Urgent appeal for blood donors after cyber attack on hospitals

By John Mercury June 10, 2024

The NHS has launched an urgent appeal for O blood-type donors following a cyber attack that has affected some of the largest hospitals in London.

NHS Trusts said a major ransomware attack on Tuesday caused chaos across King’s College Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’, including the Royal Brompton and the Evelina London Children’s Hospital, and primary care services.

It had targeted pathology partner Synnovis on Monday, and caused a number of procedures to be cancelled as well as having a “major impact” on services, particularly blood transfusions.

The IT attack left hospitals unable to match patients’ blood as quickly as they previously could.

Qilin, a Russian group of cyber criminals, are understood to have been behind the attack.

NHS Blood and Transplant is now calling for all O-Positive and O-Negative donors to book appointments in one of London’s 25 NHS donor centres to boost stocks.

As blood has a shelf life of 35 days, and surgeries and procedures require blood to take place, stocks need to be continually replenished.

Also, stocks are said to be low following both of May’s bank holidays, and the recent half-term.

O-Negative is known as the universal donor blood type, as it can be given to everyone so is used in emergencies.

Just 8% of the population is type O-Negative but it makes up around 15% of hospital orders.

O-Positive is the most common blood type, 35% of donors have it, and it can be given to anybody with a positive blood type.

This means around 76% of the population can benefit from an O-Positive donation.

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Dr Gail Miflin, NHS Blood and Transplant chief medical officer, said: “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.

“Please book an urgent appointment to give blood at one of our 25 town and city donor centres which currently have good appointment availability.

“We have availability for donors who know they are type O but we also welcome new donors who don’t yet know their blood type.

“You might have one of these special types that can be used in emergencies.”

Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, said: “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.

“Urgent and emergency services are available as usual so patients should access services in the normal way by dialling 999 in an emergency and otherwise use NHS 111 through the NHS App, online or on the phone.

“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.

“To help London staff support and treat more patients, they need access to O-Negative and O-Positive blood, so if one of these is your blood type, please come forward to one of the 13,000 appointments currently available in NHS Blood Donor Centres.”

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