People seeking medical assistance through the NHS 111 service have been warned of delays due to a “severe” computer system outage caused by a cyber attack.
The problem relates to the system used to refer patients to care, including sent ambulances, after-hours appointment bookings and emergency prescriptions.
The “security problem” was identified around 7 am on Thursday, the software and service provider Advanced said, and indicated it may not be fully resolved until next week.
The Welsh Ambulance Service described the outage as “significant”, “important” and “far-reaching” and said it was affecting all four nations of the UK.
The ambulance service said partners across Wales have “developed and implemented plans so that services can continue to operate”.
He warned that the weekend will be a busier time than usual for NHS 111 Wales and said that while the ability to answer calls is “maximized” by the ambulance service and local health authorities, “it may take longer to answer. to the calls and we thank the public for their patience ”.
A spokesperson for NHS England said NHS 111 services are still available and that “there are minimal disruptions at the moment.”
They said that “proven contingency plans are in place for local areas using this service.”
We continue to work with the NHS and health and welfare agencies … focused on restoring all systems over the weekend and early next week
Simone Corto, Advanced
A Scottish government spokesman said he is aware of an outage reported to one of NHS Scotland’s IT vendor systems and is “working with all health councils in four-country collaboration with the National Cyber Security Center. and the supplier to fully understand the potential impact “.
He said “continuity plans” are in place.
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Department of Health said they are working to minimize disruption.
He said: “As a precaution, to avoid risks to other critical systems and services, access to the company’s services from the Health and Social Care (HSC) system has been disabled while the incident is contained.
“Emergency measures have been initiated for the affected HSC organizations and areas.”
Simon Short, chief operating officer of Advanced, confirmed that the incident was related to a cyber attack and said he had taken actions that contained the attack, adding that “no further problems were found.”
He said: “Early intervention by our incident response team has contained this problem on a small number of servers representing 2% of our health and care infrastructure. The protection of services and data is critical in the actions we take. and we are undertaking.
“We continue to work with the NHS and health and welfare agencies, as well as with our technology and security partners, focusing on restoring all systems over the weekend and early next week.
“In the meantime, the services affected by the NHS will continue to function [using contingency]. “