Survey finds many doctors fear NHS will fall victim to another ransomware attack

Survey of more than 500 primary and secondary care doctors across the UK finds 20% of respondents believe the NHS is at a ‘very high risk’ of a repeat of the May 2017 cyber-attack

Following the ransomware attack that wreaked havoc on NHS IT systems last year and resulted in major disruption to patient care, the majority of doctors surveyed by healthcare intelligence provider Wilmington Healthcare say they believe another attack is likely.

The survey of more than 500 primary and secondary care doctors across the UK, found that 20% of respondents believe the NHS is at a ‘very high risk’ of a repeat of the May 2017 cyber-attack and 40% think it is at  ‘high risk’.

Thirty-four per cent of respondents believe there is a ‘medium’ risk of another cyber-attack on the NHS and the remainder consider the risk to be ‘low’ or ‘very low’.

When asked whether their trust or CCG had ever suffered a ransomware infection, nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) said ‘yes’. Thirty-four per cent did not know and 43% said they had not.

When asked to describe the effect of a ransomware attack on patient care, one doctor commented: “It took over two weeks to get back to normal operating, many operations were cancelled.”

Other comments included: “There was a massive impact on patient care, with severe delays on patient management, including cancer investigations.”

“There was massive disruption of clinical care delivery for over a week, with partial restoration of IT services in seven days and nearly a month prior to full restoration.”

To prevent a repeat of the May 2017 cyber-attack, 70 percent of respondents said there should be more investment in NHS IT systems; while 65 percent said there should be improvements in NHS IT maintenance.

Thirty seven percent of respondents think there should be more virus protection software in place and 32 percent want to see more IT experts working within the NHS.

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Gareth Thomas, Managing Director of Wilmington Healthcare, said: “Our research shows that an alarming number of Trusts and CCGs have been hit by cyber-attacks and many doctors fear a repeat of the May 2017 IT security crisis.

“While the NHS claims to have spent millions trying to fight cyber-crime, many doctors do not feel that significant changes have been made since May 2017 and it is clear that further investment in IT services and maintenance is urgently required to keep them safe.”

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