Ministers coordinating ‘resilience response’ after ‘major’ cyber attack hits NHS systems across UK
Ministers are coordinating a “resilience response” to deal with a cyber attack affecting NHS systems across the UK.
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said ministers are being “continually briefed” on the incident and are “working closely on a four nations basis” to organise a response.
“Plans in place to mitigate the impact but there will be some level of disruption,” he said.
People seeking medical help via the NHS 111 service have been warned there could be delays after the attack led to a “major” computer system outage.
The security issue was identified at 7am on Thursday morning, and it has affected the system used to dispatch ambulances, book out-of-hours appointments and issue emergency prescriptions.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said he was “being regularly briefed on the incident” affecting NHS 111 services across the UK.
“NHS England has contingency plans in place in areas affected, and disruption to the service is minimal,” he said.
“Those unwell can continue to use 111 services or should call 999 in an emergency.”
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There are fears that these technical difficulties may not be fully resolved until next week.
The Welsh Ambulance Service says the outage is significant and far-reaching – and affects all four nations in the UK.
Although it has “developed and deployed plans so services can continue to operate”, this weekend is set to be busier than usual for 111 in Wales – and it may take longer for calls to be answered.
NHS England says 111 services are still available and there is “currently minimal disruption”, with “tried-and-tested contingency plans in place”.
A Scottish government spokesman said it is aware of reported disruption to a system used by one of NHS Scotland’s suppliers – adding that it’s working with other health boards and the National Cyber Security Centre “to fully understand potential impact”.
Northern Ireland’s Department of Health is also working to keep disruption to a minimum, and steps have been taken to avoid a risk of other critical systems and services being hit.
Advanced, the software and services provider affected by the cyber attack, said the issue was contained to “a small number of servers” representing 2% of its health and care infrastructure.
Chief operating officer Simon Short added: “We continue to work with the NHS and health and care bodies as well as our technology and security partners, focused on recovery of all systems over the weekend and during the early part of next week.”