An outage at two London hospitals during the 2022 heatwave cost £1.4 million ($1.7m), an NHS review found.
Two data centers supporting the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust hospitals collapsed amid the climate change-exacerbated record temperatures.
The review, first reported by OpenDemocracy, found that the incident was likely preventable and management could have mitigated the risk of extreme weather.
After both data centers collapsed in July, staff were forced to turn to using paper, while appointments were canceled or delayed.
There were more than 100 delays, and one patient was unable to receive an organ transplant, causing “moderate harm.” The issues also caused "fatigue, stress and an adverse impact on morale" for staff.
It took six weeks for services to fully return.
This could have been avoided had the on-site data centers been properly prepared. A broken hose connector at St Thomas’ delayed efforts to cool the air conditioning system, while a struggle to find the water supply at Guy's caused similar issues.
NHS Trusts last year warned that they struggled to find funding to upgrade their estates to both lower their carbon emissions and prepare them for the wild weather swings caused by rising emissions.
The UK heatwave was 1.6°C higher than the previous record of 2019.
“In a climate unaffected by human influence, climate modeling shows that it is virtually impossible for temperatures in the UK to reach 40°C," Met Office chief scientist Professor Stephen Belcher said last year.
“Under a very high emissions scenario, we could see temperatures exceeding 40 degrees as frequently as every three years by the end of the century in the UK. Reducing carbon emissions will help to reduce the frequency, but we will still continue to see some occurrences of temperatures exceeding 40°C and the UK will need to adapt to these extreme events.”
The record temperatures also caused Google's and Oracle's data centers to overheat, leading to widespread outages.