NHS hit by cyber attack targeting ambulance dispatch and emergency prescription software

6 August 2022, 11:54 | Updated: 6 August 2022, 12:02

The NHS was hit by a cyber attack
The NHS was hit by a cyber attack. Picture: Getty

By Will Taylor

The NHS has been struck by a cyber attack that targeted ambulance dispatch systems and emergency prescriptions.

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The software outage affected the NHS 111 non-emergency service but the overall disruption was minimal.

It was not revealed who was suspected to be behind the attack but the National Crime Agency said it was "aware of a cyber incident".

GPs in London were warned that they may need to deal with more patients because of a "significant" issue with 111, while the Welsh Ambulance Service said calls may take longer to get answered this weekend.

NHS England said: "NHS 111 services are still available for patients who are unwell, but as ever if it is an emergency please call 999.

"There is currently minimal disruption and the NHS will continue to monitor the situation as it works with [software firm] Advanced to resolve their software system as quickly as possible - tried and tested contingency plans are in place for local areas who use this service."

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Simon Short, the chief operating officer at Advanced, which provides software to the health service, said: "A security issue was identified yesterday, which resulted in loss of service.

"We can confirm that the incident is related to a cyber-attack and as a precaution, we immediately isolated all our health and care environments."

Despite the attack also targeting the system used to refer patients for care and out of hours appointments, only a "small number" of servers were hit, he said – though the problem may not be completely resolved until next week.

A spokesperson for the National Cyber Security Centre said: "We are working with the company to fully understand the impact, while supporting the NHS."