A PATIENTS' watchdog in East Lancashire has voiced fears about how much a major cyber-attack will end up costing the NHS in replacement equipment and lost appointments.

Hospitals service began to return to normal yesterday, but several GP surgeries were still reporting difficulties or warning patients that appointments or clinics may be compromised after hackers held thousands of computers to ransom on Friday.

Russ McLean, chairman of East Lancashire Patients Voice, was even told of a patient who was left stuck in a scanner, at an undisclosed location in the county, as computerised equipment from doors and lifts to ventilation systems affected before the weekend.

The health campaigner has been told by staff that important computer equipment has been directly replaced, instead of repaired, as IT workers seek to overcome the effect of the 'ransomware' attack.

Mr McLean said: "The knock-on effects of this will be huge and could be felt for a number of weeks. I'm just surprised there wasn't a loss of life connected to this.

"One of the key things now will be how much this costs to put right and I will be asking serious questions of the clinical commissioning groups and hospitals trust."

He praised the resourcefulness of IT staff and clinicians, who gave up their weekends to tackle the bug.

All routine appointments were cancelled on Monday at Pendle Valley Mill Surgery, Brierfield Surgery, Eagle Surgery and Horsfield Practice, as staff could not access medical records. Other medical centres were advising caution to patients yesterday.

A statement from Darwen Healthcare, based at the town's health centre, said: "We may not yet have full access to patient records, prescriptions and appointment systems but we are using well-tested contingency plans to ensure that services can continue to be provided."

Staff at Peel House Surgery in Accrington warned they may need to suspend their IT systems in the coming days and Barnoldswick Health Centre and others signalled there may be difficulties with repeat prescriptions.

Bosses at NHS Digital nationally insisted they sent out a computer 'patch' to bolster hospital computer security at the end of April, which was reissued on Friday. And the government has defended terminating a £5million contract in 2015 with Microsoft for Windows XP security support.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth, told Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt in a letter that concerns were repeatedly flagged about outdated computer systems, accusing the Tories of 'raiding' NHS capital budgets to fund day-to-day spending. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, supported the claim.