NHS 111 delays can occur after a computer system failure caused by a cyber attack


People who need to use the NHS 111 service for medical advice were warned of delays as a cyber attack caused a “major” failure of the computer system.

The outage means the system used to refer patients for treatment, including ambulance dispatch, after-hours appointment bookings and emergency prescriptions, will be affected.

Service provider Advanced said the “security issue” was discovered around 7am on Thursday and hinted it might not be fully operational again until next week.

The Welsh Ambulance Service described the outage as “major”, “substantial” and “widespread” and said it affected all four nations of the United Kingdom.

The Ambulance Service said partners across Wales had “developed and implemented plans to enable the services to continue operating”.

It warned that the weekend will be a busier time than usual for NHS 111 Wales, saying while capacity to answer calls from ambulance services and local health officials is being “maximised, it may take longer for calls to be answered and we thank the public for their patience”.

A spokeswoman for NHS England said NHS 111 services were still available and there was “minimal disruption at this time”.

They said “tried and tested contingency plans are in place for local areas using this service.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said it was aware of the reported disruption to the systems of one of NHS Scotland’s IT suppliers and was “working with all health authorities on a four nation basis, with the National Cyber​​Security Center and the supplier to to fully understand the potential impact”.

There are “continuity plans”.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Department of Health said work was being done to keep the disruption to a minimum.

He said: “To avoid any risk to other critical systems and services, access to the company’s services has been disabled by the HSC (Health and Social Care System) as a precautionary measure while the incident is contained.

“Contingency measures have been initiated for the affected HSC organizations and areas.”

Simon Short, Advanced’s chief operating officer, confirmed the incident was linked to a cyberattack and said it had taken measures that contained the attack, adding that “no other issues were identified”.

He said: “The early intervention of our incident response team limited this issue to a small number of servers, representing 2% of our health and care infrastructure. The protection of services and data is the top priority in our measures.

“We continue to work with the NHS and health and care organizations and our technology and security partners and are focused on restoring all systems over the weekend and early next week.

“Meanwhile, the services affected by the NHS will continue to operate [using contingency].” NHS 111 delays can occur after a computer system failure caused by a cyber attack

Fry Electronics Team

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