A cyberattack was identified as the cause of a software malfunction affecting several NHS systems across the UK. The attack took place at around 07:00 BST on Thursday, Advanced, a company that reportedly provides digital services for NHS 111.
Although telephone systems and electronic referrals to doctors after working hours were cut off, the NHS said the effect was minor.
The National Crime Agency said it was “notified of a cyber incident” and is partnering with Advanced.
Simon Short, chief executive of Advanced, said a security issue discovered yesterday disrupted the service.
When we learned that the incident was linked to a cyber attack, we immediately shut down all of our health and care environments as a security precaution.
“Our Incident Response team was able to narrow the problem down to a small number of servers, which represent only 2% of our health and care network,” the company said.
According to trade magazine Pulse, NHS England has informed family doctors in London that the increase in patients coming to them via NHS 111 may be due to a “serious technical problem”. A letter sent to general practitioners in the capital indicated that the disruption concerned patients’ digital prescriptions.
According to a spokesman, NHS England is monitoring the situation and there are minor interruptions at this time.
NHS 111 services are still available to those who are ill, but are required to call 999 in case of an emergency.
Health officials are working with Advanced to get the software system fixed as quickly as possible; “Tested and verified backup technologies exist for local communities using this service.”
A Scottish government representative said the government was aware of an alleged system malfunction of one of NHS Scotland’s IT vendors and “is working effectively with all health authorities on a four-area basis, the National Cyber Security Centre. together and with the supplier to fully understand the future results”.
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