Research and Technology

03.12.18

NHS staff frozen out of more than a million accounts as email network goes down

The NHS has suffered a national outage to its email system, causing staff to be locked out of more than a million accounts over the weekend.

NHS Digital issued a ‘severity 1’ notice, warning of a “complete shutdown” outage to NHSmail after staff reported losing access to their accounts before midday on Saturday.

The email network, which supports more than 1.2 million NHSmail accounts in England and Scotland to share identifiable and sensitive patient information, suffered a nation-wide outage.

The health service said the outage was caused by a software issue and not another cyber attack similar to last year’s WannaCry ransomware attack, which lead to the cancellations 20,000 appointments and operations.

That cyber-attack cost the NHS £92m, with £72m spent on IT support to restore data and systems in the aftermath and lost output cost the health service £20m.

Simon Eccles, the chief clinical information officer for health and care at the NHS, said in a tweet on Saturday that NHSmail was “completely down on all platforms” and described the situation as “exceptionally unusual.”

NHS Digital announced that the central NHSmail system was back online on Saturday evening, with 85% of accounts now accessible.

It commented that it has been working hard to fix the issues, and on the Sunday confirmed that all accounts identified as having been locked out were now unlocked.

NHS Digital said in a statement: “We apologise to all of those who have been affected and to those still inconvenienced.

“We will continue to monitor the service carefully over the next 24 hours.”

Image credit - MartinPrescott

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