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Health Service crippled by 8,000 viruses

The UK National Health Service (NHS) suffered more than 8,000 separate computer virus over the past year, according to an official government report, leading to problems with appointments and patient records.

According to data acquired under the Freedom of Information Act, which allows the public to request access to information deemed to be in the public interest, by More4 News, more than 8,000 viruses got through NHS security systems last year, with 12 incidents affecting clinical departments and impacting on patient care.

Problems included appointments being cancelled without warning, with patients having to be turned from one hospital in Scotland for clinical appointments.

The Royal London and London Chest Hospital were also hit, with patient administration services badly affected.

A number of NHS trusts conceded that their networks were attacked because antivirus software was turned off or not properly implemented.

Hospitals in the Grampian, Isle of Wight, Basingstoke & North Hampshire, Newcastle, Poole, Bradford Teaching Hospitals and Leeds Teaching Hospitals trusts were also badly affected.

In Sheffield, a total of 800 PCs were infected after just one computer in an operating theatre had its antivirus software switched off.

The statistics include the number of cases where health systems were hit by the Conficker virus, a worm which hit a number of government, medical and military systems around the world.

The NHS defended its IT policies, claiming: “Electronic patient records systems are protected by the highest levels of access controls and other security measures. These levels of security are far higher than any which can be imposed on access to paper records or the majority of local NHS IT solutions.”

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