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New cyber-security measures promised for NHS

New measures to safeguard NHS data from cyber-attacks were announced yesterday at the NHS Expo.

The Care Computing Emergency Response Team (CareCERT) was established last September by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (now called NHS Digital) to provide cyber-security advice for health and care organisations.

Three new services from the programme will start being tested this month: CareCERT Knowledge, an e-learning portal for health and care staff, and two advice services.

CareCERT Assure will help organisations assess their local cyber security measures against industry standards and provide recommendations on improving security, while CareCERT React will provide advice on reducing the impact of a security incident if one does occur.

Nicola Blackwood, the public health and innovation minister, said: “The risks from cyber-attacks are ongoing and ever changing across all sectors, and often cyber-attacks on the NHS are not seeking health data specifically, but have targeted a range of sectors with the same attack. But we need to make sure that health and social care information is protected with the highest possible standards of security.

“NHS Digital’s CareCERT service will help over 1.3 million NHS staff and those working in care staff boost their awareness and knowledge, as well as helping organisations improve their defences and keep valuable patient information secure.

“If the worst should happen, the service will also help organisations respond as quickly as possible. I would encourage all health and care organisations to sign up to CareCERT and make the most of this valuable resource.”

Andy Williams, chief executive of NHS Digital, added that the new CareCERT services will help to improve digital security across health and care organisations, from frontline doctors and nurses to chief executives.

“Good digital security is key to all roles in health and care, and we want to give NHS organisations the benefit of our expertise in this area, so that we can promote best practice across the sector,” he said. “We want to work with as many organisations as possible, and are seeking their feedback, so we can develop and test them according to organisations’ particular needs.

“I look forward to working with people across the NHS and social care to support them to ensure that patient information remains safe and secure in a digital world.”

Dan Taylor, head of cyber-security at NHS Digital, wrote an article for the July/August edition of NHE on the importance of cyber-security in the NHS.

Digital reforms were a key theme at the NHS Expo conference after Dr Robert Wachter announced his new independent report, which warns that the goal of a paperless NHS will not be achieved by 2020.

Elsewhere, Matthew Swindells, national director for operations and information at NHS England, said that technology should be embedded in the STP process, whilst Simon Stevens, the CEO of NHS England, said that “getting digitisation right” was more important than introducing it quickly.

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David Booth   11/09/2016 at 11:33

This is a welcome initiative. While it is not clear from the articles, I wonder if the Cyber Essentials scheme is under consideration as a standard to aim for in the NHS. The scheme is backed by HMG and CESG and provides basic cyber security principles. As co-developer of the scheme (I'm now partly retired) I'd be happy to discuss options informally.

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