Dunedin Hospital staff are being praised for minimising
the impact on patients of a massive IT failure, although
opinion varies about how bad the effect on patients has been.
The Southern District Health Board's IT system went down
about 1am on Monday and was fully reinstated about 2.30pm
Medical director of patient services Richard Bunton said no
elective surgery was postponed as a result of the glitch, and
''one or two patients were inconvenienced''.
He said staff worked hard under trying circumstances, not
previously experienced at the hospital, to ensure services
were fully operational.
''Clinical systems are back to normal with minimal
disruption. We want to thank patients for their understanding
and a huge thank you to all our staff who have worked around
Mr Bunton said the level of patient care was not compromised,
and as far as anyone could tell, no information had been
lost. He was satisfied with the hospital's contingency plan.
He said it seemed the failure of a piece of equipment similar
to a computer router, which allowed information to be shared,
caused the IT system to shut down.
Staff were unable to send, receive or access information
digitally and reverted to using paper records.
Mr Bunton said the system was rebooted yesterday morning and
after being tested was fully operational about 2.30pm.
The system was under a maintenance contract, so its failure
should not cost the health board, he said.
''There's not a lot in direct costs. Some staff worked longer
hours, so there will be labour and salary costs.''
He could not remember there being another IT failure of such
magnitude at the hospital, including a smaller one in 2008
which lasted for 10 days.
Mr Bunton said those working on the IT system were confident
it was ''perfectly OK''.
Dunedin North MP and Labour's associate health spokesman
David Clark doubted the system was good enough and said the
hospital's ''old, neglected'' infrastructure needed
He blamed the Government for not spending enough on health in
Otago and Southland.
Dr Clark had anecdotal evidence about Dunedin Hospital
patients not receiving the ultimate level of care during the
IT failure, and criticised the hospital's contingency plan,
including the use of paper records.
He said the failure put lives at risk.
Dr Clark said he would seek assurances about how future risks
would be mitigated by the SDHB.
Prime Minister John Key, asked about the outage while
visiting the hospital to open a new ward yesterday, said it
However, anyone who had contact with computer systems knew
they broke down from time to time, Mr Key said.