Survey finds NHS doctors fear a repeat of WannaCry cyber attack

20-Mar-2018

Wilmington Healthcare report shows majority of doctors think further ransomware attacks are likely

  • Wilmington Healthcare survey found 60% of primary and secondary care doctors in UK believe NHS is at ‘very high’ or ‘high’ risk of a repeat of May 2017 WannaCry cyber attack
  • 23% said they had suffered a ransomware infection
  • 70% called for investment in NHS IT systems
  • 37% want more virus protection software in place

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 believe another attack is likely, according to a new report.

A survey by healthcare intelligence provider, Wilmington Healthcare, 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 WannaCry cyber attack; and 40% think it is at ‘high risk’.

34% of respondents believe there is a ‘medium’ risk of another attack on the NHS, and the remainder consider the risk to be ‘low’ or ‘very low’.

When asked whether their trust or clinical commissioning group had ever suffered a ransomware infection; nearly a quarter of respondents (23%) said ‘yes’. 34% percent did not know, and 43% said they had not.

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

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, [and] many operations were cancelled.”

Other comments included ‘There was a massive impact on patient care, with severe delays on patient management, including cancer investigations’, and ‘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 before full restoration’.

To prevent a repeat of the WannaCry attack, 70% of respondents said there should be more investment in NHS IT systems; while 65% said there should be improvements in NHS IT maintenance.

37% percent of respondents think there should be more virus protection software in place and 32% want to see more IT experts working within the NHS.

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.

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“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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