GPs and hospitals affected as cyber attack hits NHS Lanarkshire

Hospitals and GP practices run by NHS Lanarkshire were disrupted by a cyber-attack, officials have said.

NHS Lanarkshire has been hit by a cyber attack. Picture: NHS Lanarkshire
NHS Lanarkshire has been hit by a cyber attack. Picture: NHS Lanarkshire

Operations and doctors appointments were cancelled as IT security experts moved to prevent the spread of the attack and determine the scale of the problem. The shutdown is understood to have occurred at 11am yesterday. The health board confirmed malicious software had been detected in IT systems.

Chief executive Calum Campbell said the board “took immediate action” to put a security solution in place, and was working to minimise impact on patients. It is unclear at this point whether the health board was deliberately targeted.

NHS Lanarkshire was one of the worst-hit health authorities in Scotland in the widespread cyber-attacks in May.

However, a spokeswoman for the health board said the current issues were “not on the same scale”.

She said a number of appointments and procedures had been postponed as a result of the current issues, but there were “no concerns around emergency treatments”.

Mr Campbell said: “We have detected some incidences of malware and took immediate action to prevent this spreading while we carried out further investigations. We are currently putting in place a solution from our IT security provider.While the issue is being resolved, our staff have been working hard to minimise the impact on patients and we apologise to anyone who has been affected.”

Eleven of Scotland’s 14 territorial health boards were hit by the “ransomware” attack linked to other IT attacks around the world in May. The hack encrypted information on NHS Scotland computers, denying access and demanding payment was made.

One patient, who attended a GP appointment in Hamilton, said: “Receptionists were asking people to only stay and wait to see a doctor if it was an emergency. They were unable to access anyone’s notes or test results.

“The staff were really stressed but trying their best to help people. The main receptionist was super stressed about it and was saying it was a cyber attack, although I’m not sure that they had had it confirmed that it was.”

NHS Lanarkshire serves a population of over 650,000 people and is Scotland’s third-largest health board.