Major ransomware attack disrupts London hospitals

05/06/2024 | The Guardian

Hospitals in London are facing severe challenges in providing healthcare services following a ransomware attack on a service provider that has disabled vital systems and has since been declared a "critical incident". NHS England's London region confirmed that Synnovis, a provider of pathology lab services, was the target. Seven hospitals operated by two NHS trusts experienced significant disruption, leading to the postponement of scheduled childbirths and the cancellation or transfer of operations and blood transfusions. Despite the attack, emergency care and outpatient appointments continue. The NHS's London region implemented "mutual aid" procedures, with other hospitals in the capital assisting affected facilities. The attack targeted Synnovis, a partnership between the Guy's and St Thomas' (GSTT) and King's College trusts and private firm Synlab, responsible for analysing blood tests. 

By Wednesday morning, reports in The Guardian suggest that a Russian group of cybercriminals called Qilin is behind the ransomware attack. Former head of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Ciaran Martin, speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, said: "There are two types of ransomware attack. One is when they steal a load of data and they try and extort you into paying so that isn't released, but this case is different. It's the more serious type of ransomware where the system just doesn't work." While the government has a policy of not paying the ransomware attack's demands, Martin said that a private company is free to do so if they so decide. 

As the London hospitals scramble to adapt, and with GP surgeries, community and mental health services also affected, legacy paper-based records systems and porters are being resurrected to cope as the disruption continues. 

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NHS St Thomas’  Hospital

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