Telstra outage 'could have cost lives'

The Telstra phone and internet outage across Wollongong this week could have been life-threatening, according to a Gwynneville doctor.

Dr Jenny Smiley runs Gwynneville Medical Practice, which was affected by the outage that occurred on Saturday evening when water got into the Wollongong exchange in Crown Street.

She said her phones were out until Wednesday morning but her internet only returned early on Friday afternoon.

A week offline: businesses feel the pain

During those seven days, Dr Smiley hasn't been able to receive patients' test results via either email or fax.

She said not being able to get patients' results quickly could create a "dangerous" situation. At the least, it could leave doctors open to being sued and, at worst, could be life-threatening.

"If you don't follow abnormal [test] results, then you will be successfully sued. So here we are, I haven't had timely results since Saturday evening and it's now Friday.

"That's a long time. I've seen people with leukaemia develop [signs] and die in that space of time.

"If you'd sent someone who you felt was unwell for a blood test and you haven't acted on it by today, really people could have died."

Telstra claimed that medical priority customers were addressed first but Dr Smiley was not happy that her practice seemed to have been overlooked.

"There have been a whole lot of medical practices that have been out," Dr Smiley said.

"We were told there was no prioritisation, that we would just be put back online as they got the job.

"That seems to be really terrible. It's been a really badly handled exercise by Telstra. I think they would have lost a lot of goodwill."

Telstra area general manager Mike Marom said that connecting the practice's phones and internet was prioritised after the fault was reported on April 1.

"It's been a priority but from a connection point of view, with the ADSL being a little bit more complicated, it wasn't reconnected till 12 o'clock today," Mr Marom said.

"But fortunately, from a medical clinic point of view, they did have their phone services up and running within 24 hours of reporting the fault to us."

Mr Marom said individuals and businesses could register with Telstra as medical priority customers.

Also, they could request an interim service if they needed it.

He said there were still about 900 ADSL services to restore at lunchtime on Friday and Telstra was still on track to have them all operating by the end of the day.

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