Ransomware attack disrupts major London hospitals

The attack underscores the vulnerability of the healthcare sector to cyberattacks.

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A ransomware attack on Synnovis, a pathology services provider, has severely disrupted major hospitals in London, including King’s College Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’, and the Royal Brompton. This incident has led to the cancellation and redirection of numerous medical procedures. The hospitals have declared a ‘critical incident’ due to the significant impact on services, notably affecting blood transfusions. Synnovis’ CEO, Mark Dollar, expressed deep regret for the inconvenience caused and assured efforts to minimise the disruption while maintaining communication with local NHS services.

Patients in various London boroughs, including Bexley, Greenwich, and Southwark, have been affected. Oliver Dowson, a 70-year-old patient at Royal Brompton, experienced a cancelled surgery and expressed frustration over repeated delays. NHS England’s London region acknowledged the significant impact on services and emphasised the importance of attending emergency care and appointments unless instructed otherwise. They are working with the National Cyber Security Centre to investigate the attack and keep the public informed.

Synnovis, a collaboration between SYNLAB UK & Ireland and several NHS trusts, prides itself on advanced pathology services but has fallen victim to this attack despite stringent cybersecurity measures. Deryck Mitchelson from Check Point highlighted the healthcare sector’s vulnerability to such attacks, given its vast repository of sensitive data. Recent cyber incidents in the UK, including a similar attack on NHS Dumfries and Galloway, underscore the persistent threat to healthcare services. Government agencies actively mitigate the current situation and support affected NHS organisations.