NHS left in chaos after cyber attack
ACYBER attack plunged the NHS into chaos across Greater Manchester and the wider UK on Friday.
GP practices and hospitals in the region were among organisations across the world ‘held to ransom’ by the hackers.
The ‘ransomware’ campaign hit up to 25 NHS organisations nationwide and was declared as a ‘major incident’ on Friday.
It caused problems accessing patient files in practices and Clinical Commissioning Group headquarters in Stockport, Tameside and Glossop, Oldham, Bury, Manchester, Salford and Wigan.
Dental practices in Trafford are also understood to have been affected. Staff reported having to write notes by hand and turn off their computers, while some medics were said to have been sent home. Trafford Hospital’s computer system was hit and there were unconfirmed reports that Manchester Royal Infirmary experienced difficulty accessing some files.
Meanwhile, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust asked patients to ‘avoid A&E’.
Medics continued to treat patients despite the ‘unprecedented’ crisis, but in many cases were unable to access patient files, emails or even phonelines.
Hackers warned staff that all their files would be deleted in seven days unless bitcoin currency was paid.
A spokeswoman from the Stockport CCG, which oversees GPs in the borough, said all 47 of their practices had been advised to print out appointment details and save work because it could ‘all be wiped’.
Similar stories came in from across Greater Manchester as medics battled through the afternoon despite the glitches.
As the attack unfolded, screenshots were shared by victims showing a locked computer with a demand for payment. Reports of infections came from across the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain, Italy, Vietnam, Taiwan and others.
One cyber-security researcher tweeted that he had detected more than 36,000 instances of the ransomware, called WannaCry and variants of that name.
A spokeswoman from NHS Digital said there was no evidence patient data had been accessed but they would continue to work with affected organisations.
She added: “This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors. Our focus is on supporting organisations to manage the incident swiftly and decisively.”
Telecoms giant Telefonica said in a statement it was aware of a ‘cybersecurity incident’ but clients and services had not been affected.
Power firm Iberdrola and utility provider Gas Natural were also reported to have suffered from the outbreak.
There were reports staff at the firms were told to turn off their computers.
GP practices and hospitals were ‘held to ransom’ by hackers