Written by 15:23 Business

The Aftermath of a U.K. Cyberattack: Blood Shortages and Delayed Operations

Several London hospitals, still under significant strain more than a week after a cyberattack crippled services, have asked medical students to volunteer to help minimize disruption, as thousands of blood samples have had to be discarded and operations postponed.

The ransomware attack on Synnovis, a private firm that analyzes blood tests, has crippled services at two major National Health Service hospital trusts, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ and King’s College, which described the situation as “critical.”

According to a memo leaked in recent days, several London hospitals asked medical students to volunteer for 10- to 12-hour shifts. “We urgently need volunteers to step forward and support our pathology services,” said the message, which was reported earlier by the BBC. “The ripple effect of this extremely serious incident is felt across various hospital, community and mental health services in our region.”

The attack also disrupted blood transfusions, and the N.H.S. appealed to the public this week for blood donors with O-negative blood types, which can be used in transfusions for any blood type, and O-positive blood types, which is the most frequently occurring blood type, saying it could not match patients’ blood at the same frequency as usual.

While the N.H.S. has declined to comment on which group was suspected of carrying out the attack, Ciaran Martin, a former head of British cybersecurity, told the BBC last week that a Russian cybercriminal group known as Qilin was most likely the perpetrator. Synnovis said last week in a statement that it was working with the British government’s National Cyber Security Center to understand what had happened.

Synnovis, in an email sent Monday to primary health providers, said that thousands of blood test samples would probably have to be destroyed because of the lack of connectivity to electronic health records. In a statement on Wednesday, Synnovis said that the I.T. system had been down for too long for samples taken last week to be processed.

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Last modified: 14 June 2024
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