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GP practices 'closed down' by NHS computer system hack attack

GP practices across England have been affected by what appears to be a major cyber attack on the NHS computer system.

Pulse understands that some GP practices have had to shut down, while hospital staff found themselves unable to work.

Dr George Farrelly, a GP in East London, said his practice did not have access to patient records and could not prescribe medicines.

Dr Farrelly, who works at the Tredegar practice in Tower Hamlets, said his practice had ‘heard something might happen’ earlier in the day so had printed the appointment list.

He said: ‘I am going to see my patients but of course we cannot access any records and can’t prescribe.’

Meanwhile Dr Neil Paul, a GP in Cheshire, sent Pulse a computer screenshot of the error message caused by the attack, which is requesting $300 worth of Bitcoin, the online currency.

He told Pulse that in his area around 'half' of practices were affected by the attack, including some cases of 'whole practices' being forced to shut down.



The Wingate Medical Centre in Liverpool also tweeted that it was unable to work.

And NHS Liverpool CCG warned patients to only contact their GP practice in an emergency.

NHS Digital said that 'a number of NHS organisations have reported... that they have been affected by a ransomware attack'.

A spokesperson said: 'The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor.

'At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed. We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this.

'NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations, ensure patient safety is protected and to recommend appropriate mitigations.'

According to NHS Digital, the attack was 'not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors'.

The spokesperson added: 'Our focus is on supporting organisations to manage the incident swiftly and decisively, but we will continue to communicate with NHS colleagues and will share more information as it becomes available.'

Readers' comments (30)

  • National Hopeless Service

    This article was a bit ironic -Sharp rise in GP practices investigated by data protection watchdog

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  • Vinci Ho

    According to one of my girls(receptionists) early on , she saw the screen kind of 'melting': patient's details on screen reverted back to older entries ; old address replaced latest one!!

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  • Like many GPs I suspect, I have sat in meetings and heard expensive suited men telling us that the NHS has unbreakable security and that data was completely secure. Yet more evidence that those making decisions in the NHS about where to spend huge sums of money on NHS IT should be answering questions in a public enquiry.

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  • Stelvio | Locum GP12 May 2017 6:01pm

    Not sure what kind of meeting you goto but at all the meetings I go, I go, I get told there is no such thing as unhackable data. NHS security standard gives good standard of protection but no such things as 100% secure.

    What I do get told is that digital record is more secure then paper ones and data breaches are down to human errors rather then hacking. Track record shows this to be true - until today :)

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  • Surprised if there are enough IT staff left to deal with this problem given recent changes to the way contractors are taxed IR35. Good news for consultants. Weekend rates too.

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  • Apparently Wanna Decryptor is a common malware, according to the BBC.
    Wana Decrypt0r v.2 (as written on the ransomeware pop-up) may be a new version.That would be easier to stop. People are already blaming that "somebody clicked on an email." But a mass simultaneous Cyberattack UK-wide? That's not clickbait.
    But it could be cover for something worse. I saw my screen blue-screen, restart Windows, then an error message about "you are not authorised to access Blue Bay", then a Windows list of error messages, before the ransomeware pops up.
    Whole thing also makes me more worried about the over-reliance GP Practices have on using Emis Web with an always-on connection to Emis Web servers needed.Next time they might only need to hit Emis Server farms to mess up our GP services.

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  • I've had a warning pop up for 18m saying 'your current Microsoft software is not supported'. It's not my job to sort this out- I'm not from IT. I had an 18yr old lad in who laughed at my computer tower and told me it needed to be replaced. It's widely known that NHS IT has been severely underfunded for years. Hunt/May- we needed better funded IT a while back. Now people are dying. What do you have to say?

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  • Vinci Ho

    If you are following this fascinating story as more will unfold. The early post mortem examinations appear to associate with the vulnerably weak cyber security in our NHS IT systems . My practice, for instance , is one of the many which is still using Windows XP professional. Verdict from IT experts is merely lack of investment in maintaining and upgrading this security. Yes , this attack might not be specifically targeting NHS but our 'firewalls' are such easy targets to break in the midst of any large scale global cyber attack .
    This is the last thing Auntie May wanted three weeks from the general election she called upon. Trusting Agent Hunt might become a major liability as he was only interested in developing flamboyant, superficial and flawed ideas like NHS smartphone apps , more Skype consultations etc without realising some fundamentals need to be addressed first . Ignorance , arrogance and complacency describe it all .
    Keep an eye on this story , more 'lessons' to learn.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Nicola Sturgeon immediately called for a 'resilience' meeting even though the impact in Scotland is much less than England . Auntie May had to remote control in reassuring the public that no patient data had been compromised as she is 'confidently' campaigning in Northern England . Typically , there is no show of Agent Hunt. I would jump to exploit this situation if I was an opposition leader !
    Well , this story of general election is full of twists and turns, isn't it?

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  • This is much worse than it currently appears. Being in pain or feeling poorly will pale into insignificance when people start dying in hospitals because they cannot get treatment.

    DoI - medical informatics consultant

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