Largest NHS trust hit by 'IT attack'

'Tried and tested' contingency plans are being used to ensure patient care is 'not affected', says Barts Health group of hospitals.
Written by Danny Palmer, Senior Writer

Barts Health NHS Trust incorporates five hospitals in London, including St Bartholowmew's.

Image: Barts Health NHS Trust

The largest hospital group in the UK has taken some of its systems offline following a cyberattack.

Barts Health NHS Trust incorporates five hospitals across East London -- Mile End Hospital, Newham University Hospital, The Royal London Hospital, St Bartholowmew's Hospital, and Whipps Cross University Hospital -- and its workforce of over 15,000 staff provide care to millions a year.

Staff at Barts became aware of what's described as an 'IT attack' against the hospital and a spokesperson confirmed that some computer systems have been shut down as a precaution -- but that "tried and tested" contingency plans are in place and the hospital group is "making every effort to ensure that patient care will not be affected".

Citing the incident as ongoing, the spokesperson wouldn't go into detail about which departments have been affected and said that as of yet the Trust doesn't know what type of attack has taken place or how it ended up infiltrating hospital systems.

"On 13 January Barts Health became aware of an IT attack. We are urgently investigating this matter and have taken a number of drives offline as a precautionary measure. We have already established that the Cerner Millennium patient administration system and the clinical system used for Radiology are not affected. We have tried and tested contingency plans in place and are making every effort to ensure that patient care will not be affected," Barts said in a statement. The incident is not believed to involve ransomware, the trust said.

The attack against Barts Health NHS Trust comes after a cyberattack against Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust which took three hospitals offline offline in November.

The incident was eventually confirmed to be a Globe2 ransomware attack, which led to the cancellation of 2,800 patient appointments the NHS Trust. There's still no word from Lincolnshire as to how the ransomware got into the system.

Hospitals are an appealing target for cybercriminals to attack, not only because of the crucial role of IT in healthcare, but also because the data held by hospitals is so vital.

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