As if budget deficits and junior doctor strikes aren’t enough, Sky TV has revealed that the NHS’ IT system is also in need of major surgery.
It is not only patients’ sensitive health data that’s at risk – hackers could also shut down vital equipment and systems. Hospitals have become regular targets for ransomware attacks in the US and it is clear that the NHS’ out-of-date (or in some cases even non-existent) cyber security is ill-equipped to deal with threats of this kind.
Currently, the NHS is believed to be suffering around 2000 data breaches a year. Despite this, some Trusts are spending no money at all on security, leaving them vulnerable to even the most unsophisticated hackers. Only recently did three hospitals have to cancel all appointments when they were hit by malware which shut down their booking systems – staff had to resort to the good old pen and paper method. This issue is going to need more than a sticking plaster.