More Dataloss And Computer Failure

Yet more reasons why large scale IT projects containing sensitive data are prone to failure. IT projects like the NHS Database.

Firstly the BNP had their membership list published on the internet, and this has led to some nastiness. While some people may think that publishing a list of these odious people is some sort of 'justice', I happen to think that data security should apply to everyone, no matter how nasty their legal views are.

It's though that this was an inside job from a disgruntled former employee. It's hard to protect against such things, and with the NHS being such a large employer, it will only be a matter of time before one person decides to open the floodgates and open up the system to abuse.

The second example is the virus infecting the Royal London Hospital. This was the Mytob worm that disables anti-virus software, shuts down firewalls and allows remote access. It's been around since early 2005.

All I know is that for a large part of Tuesday, the Royal London Hospital wasn't accepting ambulance patients into A&E. While I wasn't there, I can't see how the failure of a computer system meant that they couldn't deal with emergency patients. Even worse, this came a day after all the local hospitals were inundated with patients. At my local hospital there were no beds available at half past six and there were nine ambulances waiting to handover their patients into the packed out A&E.

Therefore, hospitals that were still recovering after an exceptionally busy Monday had more pressure put on them because the Royal London went on divert.

I know of one critically injured patient who should have gone to the Royal London, as it's a trauma centre, but instead had to go to another hospital. So, despite the official statement, I would suggest that “By using back-up systems, manual procedures and working flexibly, we have continued to provide high quality care to our patients.“, isn't true for all patients.

All this was caused by an old worm that should be fully protected against – imagine if it were something specifically written to take advantage of the NHS computer systems. Imagine if the whole computer system was linked and the worm had access to the entirety of the NHS via a joined up database?

If you have been to the Barts and London Trust can you be sure that the remote access feature of this worm hasn't been used and that your medical details aren't now out there?

But of course the NHS IT programme won't be doomed to failure, because they are using the best of the best to design the system, not the cheapest or most politically expedient…

Today was supposed to be my 'getting things done' day, but instead I have the lurgy (which may explain some things if this post is utterly unreadable).

Pondering – I wonder if there is a market for insulated and waterproofed Burkhas? I imagine that they'd be quite nice in the worst of the English weather. A cross between a Parka and a Burkha – but what would I call it?

15 thoughts on “More Dataloss And Computer Failure”

  1. What is to prevent an NHS employee, with a certain level of access, downloading millions of patients' data and selling it on to the highest bidder?With the market for personal information, there must be enough there to create a mass of false identities.I can't recall who first said it, but everyone has a price.

  2. Re- the rain garment – what about the very long hooded anoraks worn by scooterists in 1970s (& still seen at rallies)?I have a waterproof poncho-type thing designed for hikers – very snug with the hood drawstring pulled tight (not padded, but has lots of room for extra layers of clothing- even smallish bag of kit!). My arms can poke out of flaps in the sides when I need to deal with Casualties.

  3. Actually I've wished for years that someone would design winter coats that look nice over Asian clothing as well. You see a woman in a gorgeous embroidered salwar and it's cut off halfway with a dumpy, ugly padded European jacket.I envision something nice and swirly that hangs from the shoulders. With burquas perhaps a snap-in lining would work.

  4. I guess I am in the minority, but if / when I graduate as a doctor I think I may find myself fixing mess created by the so-called IT pros.For example, during my summer research project the computers I was using crashed, but my supervisor asked me not to bother investigating as he had called in these “pros”. They took 5 weeks to come and spent a long time talking but not fixing. After they left I fixed the problem in 2 minutes!

    It seems like it's frowned upon to be good at more than one thing nowadays… which is why I would support clinicians as managers.

  5. A: tis called Balaclava found on wikiB: an expert by my experience, knows how to regurgitate quickly what has already been solved, by solve the unknown takes use of gray matter , not always available. paper on papyrus should never be taken on faith.My def. of Expert:ex : past, has been, pert : cocky:

  6. yes you are so right:Assumption is the problem, assume ; spelled ass [of] you [and] me;

    remember most new products and ideas did not come from the well trained, only from those that ask questions and have to solve the apparently the unsolvable, buzz words, lingo of the specialists do not solve problems;

    'twas an MD that gave us the refrigeration solution.

  7. They took 5 weeks to come and spent a long time talking but not fixing. After they left I fixed the problem in 2 minutes! As I have said so many times. Consultants hang out jobs for as long as possible and play on the lack of knowledge of the users.

  8. PonderingI think there is a goretex type material that lets air and moisture out but not in.

    You could then call it a Hypoxia and if that became popular introduce the anoxia

  9. I can't see how the failure of a computer system meant that they couldn't deal with emergency patients/agree

    When we put in a new PAS and had to work on paper for 5 or so days, everybody said how easy and simple life had just become and that they didn't want a computer system back.

    Sounds like it was a capacity issue rather than a computer one. Or someone had never entertained the possibility that they might lose the computer access for a while and hadn't done any contingency planning.

  10. When the power is down, then the Computer is down therefore the cash register is closed therefore the sales assistants cannot make change thus store is not functioning thus trade is down, plus no coffee to pass the time, no games and if the the cell towers be out too then help us, we can not contact Venus for help.Brown outs be wonderful

  11. Well, it's not going to happen because (a) there's a jail sentence for it, and (b) all NHS staff are so overpaid that the opportunity to get paid (one-off) enough to retire to the Cayman Islands won't tempt them.Oh, wait…

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