‘Business as usual’ after massive NHS cyber hack

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An insider at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary has said doctors and nurses were ‘back to the 1980s using paper ‘ after a massive cyberattack affecting the NHS across the UK.

The ‘ransomware’ cyber-attack left NHS trusts across the UK without access to IT facilities and patients records.

Medical staff across the country had reported seeing computers go down “one by one” as the attack took hold, locking machines and demanding money to release the data.

The local hospital trust and GP surgery said it was ‘business as usual’ and they were running as normal.

But a Royal Lancaster Infirmary insider claimed there were major computer problems on Friday and staff were ‘back to the 1980s’. Another employee said it was ‘chaos.’

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust issued this statement on Sunday: “As you may be aware, despite national IT issues, our hospitals are running as normal.

“Our IT teams have been working throughout the weekend to ensure that computers across the Trust are safe for staff to use.”

A further statement issued on Monday by Aaron Cummins, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Finance, at University said: “The Trust has tried and tested contingency plans in place. It is these arrangements that ensured we were able to offer our services as business as usual over the period.

“Our staff and partners worked tirelessly around the clock to ensure there was as little interruption to patient care and experience as possible and this meant that wewere able to continue to offer our services to patients as near to normal as possiblethroughout.

“We are largely business as usual today but there is still some work left to do to restore things fully, including continuing to enhance and review our systems and processes to ensure we remain strong against such attacks.

“The work carried out by staff and partners over the weekend was no mean feat so we would like to offer our sincere thank you to everyone involved.

“We’d also like to thank our patients and the public for bearing with us whilst we got our systems up and running again.”

Bay Medical Group executive practice manager Kim Jones said: “It hasn’t affected us at all, it has had hardly any impact. We are being careful and taking precautions to prevent anything being spread.

“There was no impact on Friday, Morecambe Bay Health Informatics, a local IT service, have done a sterling job to protect our systems and networks and have been helping us to make sure all our sites are functioning as normal.”

The Rural Services Network voiced concern at the impact of cyber-attacks on doctors’ surgeries that serve rural communities.

It follows the ‘ransomware’ cyber-attack which left NHS trusts across the UK without access to IT facilities and patients records.

RSN chief executive Graham Biggs said: “This is an extremely worrying situation for rural patients and for small rural practices which operate on a limited budget.”

While some practices were not directly attacked by the cyber-attack, some network connections to data servers and the Internet were affected.

This left GP practices unable to access any patient data – prompting pleas for patients to attend surgery only if their need is urgent.

Mr Biggs said: “It is vital that NHS trusts invest adequately in cyber security as they seek to protect themselves against future attacks.”

NHS England hospital trusts were sent details of a security patch last month that would have prevented Friday’s malware attack.

NHS Digital confirmed that the patch was made available on its cyber portal on April 25, and a link sent to NHS IT staff on April 27.

A spokesman said: “Our understanding is that if that had been acted on it would have prevented [the malware attack].”

People in Lancashire and South Cumbria were warned to expect some disruption to GP services on Monday as IT and clinical systems were brought back online following the cyber-attack.

The home secretary said most NHS systems were back to normal after the cyber attack that left the service crippled. Experts were working to disrupt the unprecedented attack, which is thought to have affected industries across 100 countries.