Two vital ambulance trusts, South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT), responsible for serving a population of 12 million people, are facing a crisis as they have lost access to electronic patient records following a cyber attack.
The attack targeted a third-party technology company utilized by both trusts, disrupting their essential medical information systems. NHS England, in collaboration with the police, is actively investigating the incident, and efforts are underway to restore the system and resolve the situation.
Although the patient care is not directly affected, ambulances are now arriving at emergencies without crucial medical history, including allergies, significant health incidents, and medications, potentially leading to delays in treatment.
Despite the challenges, ambulance crews are working diligently to provide high-quality care, although incidents might take longer to manage due to the lack of critical information about patients. The cyber attack’s impact has been attributed to the supplier, Ortivus, a Swedish technology firm, further highlighting the vulnerability of relying on third-party vendors for critical services.
While the situation is being thoroughly investigated, NHS England reassured the public that the 999 call system remains unaffected, and individuals can still reach out to the ambulance services as usual. The incident underscores the importance of robust cybersecurity measures in the healthcare sector and the potential risks associated with relying on external technology providers.
As authorities work to restore access to electronic patient records, the ambulance trusts are facing challenges in delivering efficient and timely care, emphasizing the need for strengthened cybersecurity measures to safeguard essential medical services from cyber threats.