Belfast Telegraph

Seven hospitals affected by cyber attack still in need of support

Seven hospitals were still unable to accept emergency patients two days after a global cyber attack brought down dozens of NHS systems.

Around a fifth of trusts were hit in Friday's attack, which affected hundreds of organisations around the world.

Operations and procedures were cancelled over the weekend as experts battled to regain control of the networks.

Seven hospitals remained on A&E divert on Sunday afternoon, with ambulances taking emergency patients elsewhere, NHS England said.

Dr Anne Rainsberry, NHS incident director, said: "We have been working with 47 organisations providing urgent and emergency care who have been infected to varying degrees.

"Most have found ways of working around this but seven, including St Barts in London, have asked for extra support.

"If you have a hospital appointment you should still attend unless you are contacted and told not to."

It is unknown how the attack has affected GP surgeries, which are due to open as usual on Monday.

An NHS England spokesman described it is a "very complex emerging picture".

Dr Rainsberry said: "We have also been offering advice and assistance to GP surgeries, who will open as usual tomorrow.

"Again, if you have an appointment you should still attend unless contacted and told not to."

She urged people to "use the NHS wisely" and be patient with staff.

It comes amid concerns NHS networks were left vulnerable because they were still using outdated Windows XP software.

Medical staff reported seeing computers go down "one by one" as the attack took hold, locking machines and demanding money to release the data.

Experts have warned the number of victims "will continue to grow" as people return to work on Monday.

Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said: "On Monday morning at the start of the new working week it's likely that successful attacks from Friday that haven't yet become apparent will become apparent.

"And also existing known infections can spread, we can't say what scale the new cases will occur at but it's likely there will be some."

Europol director Rob Wainwright said the attack was indiscriminate across the private and public sectors.

"At the moment we are in the face of an escalating threat, the numbers are going up, I am worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn their machines on Monday morning," he told ITV's Peston On Sunday.

"The latest count is over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries.

"Many of those will be businesses including large corporations."

Investigators from around the globe, including the National Crime Agency (NCA), are working non-stop to hunt down those responsible for the Wanna Decryptor ransomware, also known as WannaCry.

A British cyber whiz was hailed an "accidental hero" after he registered a domain name that unexpectedly stopped the spread of the virus.

The anonymous specialist, known only as MalwareTech, issued a warning that hackers could upgrade the virus to remove the kill switch.

Among those affected by the virus was Nissan, but the car manufacturer said there had been no major impact.

A spokesman said it was "business as usual" for the Sunday night production shift at the plant in Sunderland.

Meanwhile health authorities are racing to upgrade security software amid fears hackers could exploit the same vulnerability with a new virus.

The apparent chink in the NHS's defences led to criticism of the Government and NHS bosses, with the Liberal Democrats demanding an inquiry takes place.

Labour's shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, in a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said concerns were repeatedly flagged about outdated computer systems.

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