NHS under pressure to upgrade its computer systems

The NHS is under pressure to upgrade its outdated computer systems amid continual disruption caused by a large cyber hack.

On Friday 12 May, the NHS was rocked by the largest computer hack in its history.

Large factions of the NHS were paralysed by attack, which hit more than 200,000 victims in 150 countries worldwide.

While the crisis was tackled, operations continued to be cancelled and patients turned away from hospitals and GPs.

Inactive computers meant that many NHS administration services have since been forced to rely on pen and paper.

In 2013, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt promised to make the NHS paperless by 2018.

However earlier this year, he admitted that this promise was, in fact, failing.

The health service has been criticised for its heavy reliance on ‘outdated’ computer systems, which are more vulnerable to hacking.

Reportedly, one in twenty NHS devices runs on Micosoft XP – a 16-year-old system which is not serviced by the company.

Other services even continue to use Lotus Notes – a messaging system that was launched 28 years ago.

Mr Hunt, in particular, has been accused by the Labour Party of “ignoring the warning signs” surrounding the systems.

Hunt also faced criticism for his absence of public appearances since the attack.

On Monday 15 May, Hunt, who has held the position of Health Secretary since 2012, made his first public statement.

Defending the government, he said the NHS had made a “huge effort” to improve its resilience in recent years.

“Just 18 months ago nearly 20% of our NHS devices were running on XP – that’s been reduced to 4.7%”.

Hunt also committed to a new government contract aiming to phase out such devices by the end of March 2018.

Patients across the UK were left distressed after being turned away from hospitals as their files could not be accessed.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd says that the NHS “must learn” from this mishap.

The timing of the attack could not be worse for Theresa May as she prepares for June’s General Election.

The prime-minister recently announced plans to make Britain “the safest place in the world for people to be online”.

It is hoped that the systems will be updated ‘within ten months’.

TNT News

Photo Credit: Christoph Scholz

 

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