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Patients sent spam invoices after computer virus infects practices

GP patients and practices have been warned about spam payment demands that may appear to come from their local practice following a computer virus attack.

NHS Hull CCG warned local practices about fake invoices being sent in their name last week, some of which have been sent to practice patients.

The CCG told Pulse on Friday that the issue was ‘ongoing but being remedied’, it added that the problem was restricted to Hull surgeries although ‘the final extent of the spread of the virus remains under review’.

A notice dated 22 August on the website of the Haxby Group, which runs three practices in Hull, warns that spam emails being sent to NHS contacts should be deleted immediuately.

The note says: ‘We have now been made aware that these same spam e-mails are being received by some of our patients.

‘The address that these suspect e-mails are coming from may, at first glance appear as though it has been sent from the Haxby Group.’

A response from the CCG said that its IT partner, eMBED, has ‘dealt with a computer virus issue at a number of the GP practices in Hull’.

It said: ‘This work has included close liaison with McAfee to isolate and eradicate the strain of virus that was identified. This is an ongoing issue that is being remedied and monitored.

‘The final extent of the spread of the virus remains under review however the outbreak was restricted to the Hull locality and it is reiterated that there has been no reported disruption to patient services.’

It added that there will be a ‘full and comprehensive debrief’ of the incident and practice advice might have to be updated.

Earlier this year parts of the NHS, including hundreds of practices, were hit by the WannaCry ‘ransomware’ attack through a vulnerability in their out-of-date Windows XP systems.

Commissioning of GP IT services is the delegated responsibility of local CCGs, although NHS England is ultimately responsible for assuring IT quality nationally