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NHS organisations hit simultaneously by cyber attack

NHS Digital now working with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to ensure patient safety is protected in attack that has also affected other sectors.

A number of NHS organisations in England have been affected by a large-scale cyber attack that has locked staff out of their computers and forced many trusts to divert emergency patients.

The IT systems across numerous NHS hospital trusts appear to have been hit simultaneously with a pop-up message demanding a ransom in exchange for access to the computers.

NHS Digital has released a statement saying that although its investigations are at an early stage, it believes the malware variant to be ‘Wanna Decryptor’.

A spokesperson sais: “At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed. We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this.”

The spokesperson added that NHS Digital is currently working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and ensure that patient safety is protected, saying the attack “was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors”.

NHS Digital will continue to communicate with its NHS colleagues as it finds out more.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee says it was currently awaiting advice from NHS Digital but advises pharmacy teams who believe their computer system may have been affected by the cyber attack to contact their system supplier for advice.

It is believed up to 16 NHS trusts have been affected across the UK, including London, North Cumbria, Hertfordshire and Preston.

Barts Health NHS Trust in London released a statement saying that it had activated its major incident plan to ensure the safety and welfare of patients.

“We are very sorry that we have to cancel routine appointments, and would ask members of the public to use other NHS services wherever possible. Ambulances are being diverted to neighbouring hospitals. The problem is also affecting the switchboard at Newham hospital but direct line phones are working. All our staff are working hard to minimise the impact and we will post regular updates on the website,” the statement says.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20202773

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