NHS hospitals across England have been hit by a large-scale cyber attack including pop-up messages demanding a ransom in exchange for access to computers.
IT systems across the NHS have been hit simultaneously hit, causing staff to be locked out of their computers, forcing many trusts to divert emergency patients.
Reports show that hospitals affected are those run by East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust, Barts Health in London, Essex Partnership university NHS trusts, the university hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS foundation trust, Southport and Ormskirk hospital NHS trust and Blackpool teaching hospital NHS foundation trust.
We apologise but we are having issues with our computer systems. Please don't attend A&E unless it's an emergency. Thanks for your patience
— Blackpool Hospitals (@BlackpoolHosp) May 12, 2017
One NHS IT worker told the Guardian:
At approximately 12.30pm we experienced a problem with our email servers crashing. Following this a lot of our clinical systems and patient systems were reported to have gone down.
A bitcoin virus pop-up message had been introduced on to the network asking users to pay $300 to be able to access their PCs. You cannot get past this screen. This followed with an internal major incident being declared and advised all trust staff to shut down all PCs in the trust and await further instructions.
This is affecting the east of England and number of other trusts. This is the largest outage of this nature I’ve seen in the six years I’ve been employed with the NHS.
An image of the pop-up appearing on screens…
GP surgeries in Liverpool and some parts of Greater Manchester have also been affected by the cyber attack.
One GP, John Caldwell, reported having no access to record systems or results, and as a precaution, the Liverpool surgery has severed links to the wider NHS network.
Why would you cyber attack a hospital and hold it for ransom? The state of the world ? pic.twitter.com/e6h6yNrBBB
— If.ra (@asystoly) May 12, 2017
Unable to access our clinical system – as a precaution our area has severed links to the wider NHS, which means no access to our national systems, no computers means no records, no prescriptions, no results, we are dealing with urgent problems only, our patients are being very understanding so far.
Massive NHS hack cyber attack today. Hospital in shut down. Thanks for delaying emergency patient care & endangering lives. Assholes.
— B (@brobertson2010) May 12, 2017
East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust said that they ‘declared a major internal incident to make sure that patients already in the trust’s hospitals continued to receive the care they need’.
Non–urgent activity at the affected hospitals is being postponed and East and North Hertfordshire Trust is asking people not to come into A&E but to call NHS 111 for urgent medical advice, or 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.