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No significant clinical harm from Advanced cyber attack, says chief information security officer at NHS England

Following the Advanced cyber attack in August 2022, Phil Huggins has revealed to a Digital Health Rewired audience that the NHS has “seen no clinical impact or significant clinical harm”, after a review to be released in the near future.

The national chief information security officer for health and care at NHS England was speaking alongside a panel on the Cyber Security Stage on day two of Digital Health Rewired 2023 in London.

Huggins explained that although the impact of the Advanced attack was big on the system, in a clinical sense it was not particularly damaging, despite the fact that client data was confirmed to have been exfiltrated.

However, Ayesha Rahim, clinical lead for digital mental health at NHS England and chief medical information officer at Surrey and Borders Partnership Foundation Trust, was also on the panel, and spoke of the huge impact the attack had on staff.

“The date 4th August is imprinted in my brain”, Rahim said, which is when the attack first happened and was first reported. She explained that it is “quite difficult to fully convey the chaos this caused”, giving examples of staff having no idea what a patient’s background was and therefore having to do everything “blindfolded”.

Rahim said staff could not tell if it was safe to go out on visits to mental health patients due to the lack of data and information on them, and every time a person saw a staff member they were retraumatised having to explain their past over and over, including experiences of sexual abuse.

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Source: Digital Health, 15 March 2023


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