Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust

NHS Cybersecurity — London hospital services disrupted and cancelled amid ransomware attack

Key services at several London hospitals have been severely disrupted by a ransomware attack this week at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The trusts have confirmed its pathology services have been affected — particularly blood tests — with both being forced to redirect some patient care as well as cancel some procedures and appointments.

The incident is also affecting GP services across Bexley, Greenwich, Lewisham, Bromley, Southwark, and Lambeth boroughs.

The cyber-attack targeted IT systems from lab services provider, Synnovis, which is a partnership between the two trusts and SYNLAB, which is Europe’s largest provider of medical testing and diagnostics.

The organisation’s CEO, Mark Dollar, has said its working with the NHS to minimise patient impact, with the situation now referred to law enforcement and the Information Commissioner, alongside National Cyber Security Centre officials.

He said: “We take cybersecurity very seriously at Synnovis and have invested heavily in ensuring our IT arrangements are as safe as they possibly can be.

“This is a harsh reminder that this sort of attack can happen to anyone at any time and that, dispiritingly, the individuals behind it have no scruples about who their actions might affect.”

The attack comes seven years after the WannaCry ransomware attack, which disrupted dozens of hospital trusts and 8% of all GP services in England.

Around 19,000 appointments were cancelled across the one-week period of the attack, with an estimated 1% of all NHS activity impacted.

A report from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in 2018 found the attack cost the NHS almost £100m in lost activity.

This came shortly after the DHSC was criticised in a report from the National Audit Office that said the government had been warned about the risks of cyber attacks a full year before WannaCry but had not done enough to prevent said issues from arising.

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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