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Government pledges £21m to increase cyber-security at major hospitals

Government pledges £21m to increase cyber-security at major hospitals
By Carolyn Wickware
13 July 2017

A Department of Health report has announced plans to spend an extra £21m on mitigating the risks of another cyber attack, after NHS IT systems were hacked in May.

The report from the National Data Guardian for Health and Care said the money would ‘increase the cyber resilience of major trauma sites as an immediate priority’.

The Government report also said NHS services should start to move away from ‘unsupported operating systems’, such as Windows XP, by April 2018.

Health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said: ‘The NHS has a long history of safeguarding confidential data, but with the growing threat of cyber-attacks including the WannaCry ransomware attack in May, this Government has acted to protect information across the NHS.

‘Only by leading cultural change and backing organisations to drive up security standards across the health and social care system can we build the resilience the NHS needs in the face of a global threat.’

The Government initially pledged £50m in the Spending Review to address NHS structural weaknesses, such as unsupported systems, but the £21m would be allocated in addition to this.

The report also announced plans to allow patients to view online how their data is being used.

According to the report patients will be given the choice ‘to opt out of sharing their data beyond their direct care’.

But patients will not be able to opt out of having their data extracted from GP practices and anonymised.

However the report says that by December next year ‘people will be able to access a digital service to help them understand who has accessed their summary care record’.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, recommended a ‘phased approach’ to the opt-out scheme for data and information sharing.

She said: ‘Sharing of patient data between healthcare professionals can result in higher quality, faster and more integrated care.

‘There are also significant benefits, particularly for medical research, to sharing properly anonymised patient data on a large scale, with approved research bodies.’

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