Healthcare Technology Featured Article

February 14, 2012

Cable Thieves Attack Hospitals in Wales

Theft of communication cables has been on the rise in the United Kingdom recently, and now hospitals in Wales are being targeted by thieves and patient care is being hurt. A doctor in Wales is angry after thieves stole cables from computer systems in local hospitals, according to news reports.

A Swansea surgeon said health professionals were unable to get needed X-Rays after the thefts, The BBC reported.

Hospital X-Rays are computerized but stolen cables lead to a delay in information, The BBC said. Swansea’s Neath Port Talbot, Singleton and Morriston hospitals were forced to use a back-up system earlier this month after the thefts.

Orthopedic surgeon Dougie Russell, who is director for Musculo-Skeletal Services in Swansea, said the theft produced a "direct effect on NHS [National Health Service] services.”

In addition, Llandough Hospital in the Vale of Glamorgan was attacked in December and postponed over 80 operations, The BBC said. That attack led the University Health Board (UHB) to call the theft of cables for a generator "dangerous and irresponsible,” The BBC reported.

Russell said the incident had “the potential to reduce the quality of care we can give patients,” The BBC reported.

"Thieves who steal communication cables don't realize the consequences of their actions -- it has a direct effect on NHS services," he added in The BBC quote.

“This is not the first time that cable theft has affected ABM hospitals and I welcome calls to tighten the law to prevent these thefts,” he added in a statement to This Is South Wales.

The theft was also condemned by Swansea East MP Sian James. "Cable theft has grown. My own office was struck twice just before Christmas, which was of great inconvenience to me and my constituents," she said. "It is clear to me and others that we need a much tougher licensing regime for dealers,” James added. "We have to end this buying at the back door mentality and require that anyone selling materials to scrap metal dealers prove their identities and provide documentation on where and when the metal was sourced.”

In a related matter, high metal prices have led to increased copper theft in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, HealthTechZone reported recently. Stealing copper from telephone networks and earthing strips in the National Grid caused many service disruptions and power outages in UK, HealthTechZone adds.

Ed Silverstein is a HealthTechZone contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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