Finally breaking his silence on the global WannaCry hack attack that has battered the NHS, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has given the NHS ten months to protect itself against further IT weakness.
He wants that done by NHS managers stripping out the remaining copies of older Windows operating systems that are now believed to be the main way the service was made vulnerable.
Hunt told the press that the NHS had made a “huge effort” to improve its IT resilience and committed to eliminate use of such devices by the end of March 2018.
Critics allege that this was short-sighted cost-cutting, forcing too many NHS bodies to choose between frontline services or back office IT work – with most choosing the former.
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The news comes on the fifth day of the crisis, which as of yesterday was still affecting the health service, with a number of major NHS acute hospitals were forced into a fresh wave of cancellations of operations, appointments and other services on Monday.
These include The Royal London (Barts Health Trust), Broomfield Hospital (Mid Essex Trust) and Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital (Hampshire Hospitals FT).
Press reports suggest that GPs surgeries are having particular trouble coping, with many claimed to be “struggling” to offer appointments yesterday, with no access to booking systems or records as they attempted to protect operating systems from the virus.
We’ll continue to cover the crisis and its aftermath. Go here for the latest guidance on protecting your institution from the ransomware assault from the National Cyber Security Centre.