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A major incident has been declared after NHS services across England and Scotland were hit by a cyber-attack.
The prime minister said the incident was part of a wider attack affecting organisations around the world.
Theresa May said that the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was “working closely” with the NHS but that there was no evidence patient data had been compromised.
“We are aware that a number of NHS organisations have reported that they have suffered from a ransomware attack,” she said.
The PM added: “The National Cyber Security Centre is working closely with NHS digital to ensure that they support the organisations concerned and that they protect patient safety.”
Ambulances have been diverted and there has been disruption at some GP surgeries as a result of the attack.
Staff cannot access patient data, which has been scrambled by ransomware. There is no evidence patient data has been compromised, NHS Digital has said.
It has been reported that up to 25 NHS organisations and some GP practices have been affected.
NHS England said patients in an emergency should go to A&E or access emergency services as they normally would.
Dr Anne Rainsberry, NHS incident director, added: “More widely, we ask people to use the NHS wisely while we deal with this major incident, which is still ongoing.”
NHS Digital said the ransomware attack was not “specifically targeted at the NHS” and was affecting other organisations.
A massive ransomware campaign appears to have attacked a number of organisations around the world.
Telefonica, the Spanish telecoms company which owns mobile network O2, said it had detected a “cybersecurity incident” but that clients and services had not been affected.
Screenshots of a well-known program that locks computers and demands a payment in Bitcoin have been shared online by those claiming to be affected.
The NHS in Wales and Northern Ireland has not been affected.
NHS Digital said the attack was believed to be carried out by the malware variant Wanna Decryptor. “NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and ensure patient safety is protected, Our focus is on supporting organisations to manage the incident swiftly and decisively, but we will continue to communicate with NHS colleagues and will share more information as it becomes available.”
Dr Chris Mimnagh, who works at a medical centre in Liverpool that has been affected, said the attack had made their job impossible.
“Our entire patient record is accessed through the computer, blood results, history, medicines.
“Most of our prescribing is done electronically – we don’t use the prescriptions unless the patient particularly chooses to want a piece of green paper.
“The rest of the time it’s sent directly to the pharmacy and of course, all that is not able to be accessed when we lose the clinical system.”
Dr Emma Fardon, a GP in Dundee, said she returned from house visits to find a message on the surgery’s computers asking for the money.
“We can’t access any patient records. Everything is fully computerised.
“We have no idea what drugs people are on or the allergies they have. We can’t access the appointments system.”
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