News

Plans to strengthen NHS against threat of cyber attacks

The government is pledging an extra £21 million for cyber security across the NHS in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack.

The government is pledging an extra 21 million for cyber security across the NHS in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack

Ministers have said NHS Digital will broadcast alerts about cyber threats to hospitals, provide a hotline for dealing with incidents and also carry out on-site assessments to check security.

Work is also under way to establish a fast and cost-effective way for the NHS to completely move away from unsupported operating systems, including Windows XP, which was the focus of much criticism following the attack in May.

The future

The Department of Health said use of Windows XP has fallen in the past 18 months from 18% to 4.7%. The 21 million will help boost security at major trauma

The government is pledging an extra £21 million for cyber security across the NHS in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack


NHS operating systems are in need of on-site assessments and modernisation to prevent
future cyber attacks, government says. Picture: PA

Ministers have said NHS Digital will broadcast alerts about cyber threats to hospitals, provide a hotline for dealing with incidents and also carry out on-site assessments to check security.

Work is also under way to establish a fast and cost-effective way for the NHS to completely move away from unsupported operating systems, including Windows XP, which was the focus of much criticism following the attack in May.

The future

The Department of Health said use of Windows XP has fallen in the past 18 months from 18% to 4.7%. The £21 million will help boost security at major trauma sites, of which there are 27 across England.

The pledges form the government's response to two reports last year, from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and National Data Guardian, Dame Fiona Caldicott.

The CQC and Dame Caldicott wrote to health secretary Jeremy Hunt several months before WannaCry happened, warning that an 'external cyber threat is becoming a bigger consideration' in the NHS.

Health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said: 'The NHS has a long history of safeguarding confidential data, but with the growing threat of cyber-attacks including the WannaCry ransomware attack in May, this government has acted to protect information across the NHS.'

The RCN has said the role of healthcare staff who communicate to patients the issues and practicalities underpinning the use and management of personal data must be considered.

Training

In response, the government has promised to work with organisations to ensure frontline staff have the necessary training and tools to do this.

In May, nurses and other healthcare professionals across England and Scotland faced major disruption to their work and patient care when NHS computers were locked by a ransomware programme which demanded payment to release files.

Earlier this year, The Queen’s Nursing Institute was also hit by a cyber attack.

Chief executive Crystal Oldman said the attack, which happened just after the Easter break, underlined the importance of updating IT and security systems.


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to nursingolderpeople.com
  • Bi-monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs