Urgent action needed over NHS cyber-attack

Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, has written to Jeremy Hunt condemning “the cyber criminals whose flagrant disregard for our health service has placed patient wellbeing at risk”.

The letter calls on the government to set out why NHS organisations failed to act on a critical note from Microsoft two months ago; what additional resources are being given to the NHS to bring the situation under control as soon as possible; what arrangements are currently in place to protect our NHS, and its sensitive data, against cyber-attacks; whether the Government will launch a full, independent inquiry into the events; and; reassurance for patients that no patient data has been accessed or compromised in yesterday’s attack.

Speaking in support of this action, Cllr Stephen Morgan, Labour’s candidate for Portsmouth South in the general election next month, said:

“This significant incident highlights the risk to data security within our health service and reinforces the need for cyber security to be at the heart of government planning”.

The attack has also had a serious impact on services, with some hospitals diverting emergency ambulances and cancelling elective operations.

A large range of IT services have been affected, including pathology test results, x-ray imaging systems, phone and bleep systems, and patient administration systems.

Cllr Morgan added:

“I want to see significant steps taken to improve cyber security in our NHS. The public has a right to know exactly what the government will do to ensure that such an attack is never repeated again.”

In total more than a third of NHS Trusts have been impacted, and NHS England has consequently declared a ‘major incident’.