Virus halts hospital computers

A computer virus has shut down the entire computer system at three London hospitals, trust officials confirmed today.

The bug infected the system at St Bartholomew's (Barts) and The London NHS Trust - which is made up of Barts in the City, the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel and The London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green - on Monday at noon.

Attempts to fix the problem overnight failed and a team of engineers has been formed today to get the Trust back online.

A spokesman for the Trust said that while emergency procedures had been activated to keep key clinical systems operating safely he could not yet say whether patient care or the day-to-day running of the hospital had been affected.

Geoff Martin, of campaign group Health Emergency, said: "This was a disaster waiting to happen and it calls into question the billions of pounds committed to NHS computerisation for a system that has fallen at the first hurdle."