A cyber-attack has been verified as the source of a software breakdown impacting the NHS 111 service. The incident was discovered around 07:00 BST on Thursday, according to Advanced, a company that provides digital services for NHS 111.
The attack was directed at the system used to refer individuals for care, including the dispatch of ambulances, out-of-hours appointment bookings, and emergency prescriptions. However, the NHS stated that the inconvenience was modest.
The National Crime Agency stated that they were “informed of a cyber incident” and were collaborating with Advanced. “A security issue was discovered yesterday, resulting in a loss of service,” Advanced CEO Simon Short explained.
We quickly isolated all of our healthcare environments because we can confirm that the problem is connected to a cyberattack.
He said that the problem had only affected “a small number of servers.” The problem might not be fully resolved until the next week, according to Advanced.
According to business publication Pulse, NHS England advised family doctors in London that they would receive more patients from NHS 111 as a result of the “major technological issue.” In a letter to local general practitioners, it was revealed that the issue was hurting patient referrals made electronically.
Robert Pritchard, a cyber security specialist, told the BBC that ransomware was most likely to blame for the attack. Schools and hospitals have been frequent targets of ransomware groups, who encrypt sensitive data and demand a fee to unlock it.
The Welsh Ambulance Service has issued a warning that weekend call response times may be longer. It read: “A critical computer system used to refer patients from NHS 111 Wales to after-hours GP providers is down. Each of the UK’s four countries has been impacted by the current outage, which is large and widespread.” There is now very minor inconvenience, according to a representative for NHS England, which is keeping an eye on the situation.
Patients who are ill can still use NHS 111 services, but as always, in case of an emergency, dial 999. According to a Scottish Government spokesperson, the government is “working with all health boards collaboratively on a four nations basis with the National Cyber Security Center and the supplier to fully understand potential impact” and is aware of the reported disruption to one of NHS Scotland’s IT suppliers’ systems.
The Department of Health in Northern Ireland says it is making every effort to cause as little interruption as possible. Access to the company’s services from the HSC (Health and Social Care system) has been disabled while the situation is contained, they stated, as a precaution to reduce harm to other crucial systems and services.