Public Accounts Committee submission: Cyber-attack on the NHS
Key messages from the submission include:
- A large majority of the affected NHS trusts managed to carry on treating urgent and emergency patients through the weekend, and a few days after the attack only two were still diverting patients. This demonstrates the high levels of commitment, resilience and resourcefulness of staff working under difficult conditions.
- We agree with the National Audit Office (NAO) report that there is significant work to be done but it is important to remember that this cyber attack was not focused on the NHS alone; it was a global attack which affected many organisations including multiple large multinationals. The NHS is taking steps at national and local level to prepare for the next attack. Part of this is to ensure that NHS trusts apply software patches and keep anti-virus software up to date. Capital investment is vital to upgrade the complex digital infrastructure in NHS trusts.
- There are lessons to be learned around communication. There was a lack of leadership and coordination from NHS England and NHS Digital on the day of the attack. This was frustrating not only for those NHS trusts affected by the attack but also for those seeking to prevent the spread of the virus.