NHS shoring up cyber security amid crisis

1 March 2022, 12:04

The NHS is working to shore up cyber security in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine (PA)
The NHS is working to shore up cyber security in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine (PA). Picture: PA

Officials are also examining supply chains in the wake of the conflict.

The NHS is encouraging hospitals to shore up cyber security and examining its supply chain resilience in the wake of the situation in Ukraine, the head of the service in England has said.

The service is also working with Government to examine whether it has medical supplies which can be sent to help medical staff tending to casualties on the ground.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England, said the service is also working to support affected staff.

Asked about the conflict, Ms Pritchard told the Nuffield Trust Summit Series event: “What does it mean for us?

“The first thing is support for our staff who are from the Ukraine but I’m also talking about wider support for all of our staff including anybody from Eastern Europe or Russia.

“We have had an outpouring of support locally for people whose families might be affected by this or who are worried themselves… so the more that we can do to provide both practical and emotional support for staff who are affected by this, that’s got to be top of mind.

“The second thing (is cyber) – we have written out to the NHS, a lot of it is just a good practice about what what you should be doing around cybersecurity, but again, this just kind of brings it to the forefront.

“And I think for those organisations, who are still just working through some patching and other things, just encouraging people to make that the focus at the moment.”

She added: “The third thing, is about our supply chain resilience.

“So we’re doing some work nationally looking at supply chain resilience, energy resilience is clearly kind of part of that.”

It comes after the Health Service Journal reported that at least 11 trusts paid just over £4 million to a Russian government-owned energy supplier in the current financial year.

Ms Pritchard continued: “Part of what we have been doing is looking at things like whether we have got any sort of flexibility around supplies, which we can make sure that made available to be provided over to the Ukraine, particularly medical supplies that can be used to for casualties.

“That’s something that is being done by Government, so (we are) playing a role in that and that as well.”

A bulletin sent out to NHS organisations orders them to “further strengthen cybersecurity resilience”.

It states: “Following Russia’s further violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the National Cyber Security Centre has called on organisations in the UK to bolster their online defences.

“Further guidance will be issued to NHS technical teams this week, and we ask that leaders support their teams to undertake priority activities to further strengthen cybersecurity resilience.

“NHS leaders should confirm with their local teams that systems are patched and protected, and that immutable backups are in place.

“The National Cyber Security Centre has issued guidance for organisations to take during periods when the cyber threat is heightened.

“Please ensure your organisation is following this guidance.”

By Press Association

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