Regular blood tests are important for Amit Sanchadev, 46, of London, who relies on dialysis to keep him alive after his only functioning kidney failed in 2016.

He wakes up at 6 a.m. three times a week to plug himself into a home hemodialysis machine that acts as an artificial kidney, cleaning his blood of harmful waste for about three hours. At least once a month, he sends a blood sample by bike courier to the nearby King’s College Hospital for testing, to make sure the dialysis is working. Untreated elevations in certain blood chemicals can lead to painful symptoms or even heart failure.

Sanchdev’s routine blood tests stopped in June, following the hack of Sanvos, a pathology provider that performs 32 million lab tests a year in partnership with two of Britain’s largest hospital groups, including King’s. According to the National Health Service, the impact was immediate and severe, delaying nearly 5,000 outpatient appointments and nearly 14,000 operations. Health officials are investigating whether any of the patients died as a direct result of the attack, Bloomberg News reported.

Hacked UK trove of medical records includes data on newborns, cancer patients

With testing capacity severely lacking, King’s said he is prioritizing those who need the “most urgent” blood tests. This excludes thousands of patients like Sanchdev, whose condition is serious but not immediately life-threatening.

“It puts me in a difficult situation,” Sancha Dev told Bloomberg News in an interview, adding that he was operating “blind” without test results. “We’re doing dialysis and hoping everything will go well. But we don’t know our potassium levels. It’s not viable.”

The Sanchadev maintenance disruption is a dire example of the human impact of ransomware attacks on already-stressed critical systems. According to a recent Bloomberg News analysis, Britain’s National Health Service is beloved but already on its knees financially. The UK election, which took place a month after the Sanvos hack, has overshadowed the ongoing results, much to the dismay of clinicians, patients and advocacy groups.

“It should be at the forefront of NHS discussions,” said Sanchadev, who said he would like to see more politicians talking about the hack.

The public response is being led by NHS England, which is working with UK cybersecurity and law enforcement agencies to investigate the hack. Health ministers in the previous Conservative government received daily briefings about the hack, officials said.

Synnovis, a partnership between pathology provider Synlab UK and Ireland, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust, provides care services across South London in addition to eight hospitals within the two trusts. In the weeks immediately following the attack, blood testing services in south-east London dropped to just 10 per cent of normal capacity. NHS statement. It has a capacity of 54 percent in its most recent. Statement on July 4.

Fiona Loud, policy director at KidneyCare UK, said: “There is a trend towards kidney failure that requires urgent testing, people who are living with a transplant. are living, who need repeat blood tests.” The purpose of estimation 7.2 million people in the UK have chronic kidney disease. “It’s the guide. It drives kidney care. So not being able to get blood tests done can be quite dangerous.

John Sayer, clinical professor of renal medicine at the University of Newcastle, said regular, rapid tests were essential for treating dialysis patients and their care teams. High levels of potassium in the blood, for example, can lead to heart failure if left untreated, he said.

“Any delay is very, very serious,” Sear said. Adjusting the dialysis machine settings or taking medication may be necessary to restore blood chemicals to a healthy range, but without test results the patient doesn’t know what to change.

Qalan, the Russian-speaking group that has taken credit for the hack, told Bloomberg News that it does not accept responsibility for the human cost of its actions. The group released millions of patient records obtained in the hack, including sensitive data on pregnant women and newborns.

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has apologized for the impact of the Synnovis hack on patients.

“We are in contact with all affected patients, and are prioritizing blood testing for certain groups of patients, including those with kidney problems, and temporarily testing blood for selected patients,” a spokesperson said. are reducing frequency where it is safe to do so,” said a spokesperson.

Synnovis did not respond to requests for comment.

For Sanchadev, the uncertainty about whether his patient records are now online adds to his worry about the hack’s continued impact on his care. Synnovis has said It is still analyzing 400 gigabytes of data issued by Qilin.

“It makes me feel – where is our security, what has happened to us?” They said. “If someone has my data, can it be manipulated and cause more damage to my health?”

Image: St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Photo credit: Belinda Jiao/Getty Images

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