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Summary

  1. A cyber-attack on the NHS is affecting hospitals and GP surgeries across England and in Scotland
  2. Ransomware software that locks computers, demanding payment, is being seen on screens
  3. Theresa May says the NHS incident is part of a wider cyber-attack affecting organisations around the world
  4. Similar infections are reported by Spanish utility firms, and in the US, China, Russia, Italy, Vietnam and Taiwan
  5. Up to 28 NHS organisations in England are said to have been affected, as well as five GP surgeries in Scotland
  6. GPs reported to be using pen and paper in some areas
  7. Some hospitals are diverting patients

Live Reporting

By Megan Fisher, Alex Therrien, John Hand and Bernadette McCague

All times stated are UK

Get involved

That's it from us

We're wrapping up our live coverage of the cyber-attacks now but here's a summary of what has happened so far:

  • The total number of NHS services which have been affected stands at 39 hospital trusts with GP practices and dental services also targeted across England and Scotland
  • Some 74 countries including the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain, Italy and Taiwan have reported being affected by a virus
  • Theresa May said the attack was not targeted at the NHS, it was part of an international incident
  •  NHS Digital has said there is no evidence patient data has been compromised

To follow updates on how the attack is affecting the NHS, see our story here and for the latest on international developments click here.

Services will be affected 'well beyond the weekend'

BBC health correspondent Hugh Pym says it is not clear how long the disruption to services will last but that it will almost certainly continue well beyond the weekend.

Cyber-attack: View from an IT specialist

Terry Baldwin tells us:

The encryption virus attack on the NHS is commonly used against small businesses and individuals. 

As soon as this attack began, all hospitals and surgeries should have been told to shut down their computer systems to stop it spreading. Apparently this did not happen and many surgeries were told it was safe to restart their computers around 3.30 this afternoon resulting in the further spread of the virus.

This kind of attack usually causes some inconvenience or financial loss its victims but in this case it may well cause loss of life. 

Impact on staff morale

Simon comments:

I work in a IT systems team in a NHS Trust. We have spent all afternoon defending and protecting staff and patients from this. Fingers crossed we will stay off the list.

What I worry about is the long term effect this will have on staff moral and their trust of major IT roll outs.

Snowden: Hospital cyber security should be looked in to

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweets...

View more on twitter

Delayed appointment

Alison tells us:

I have tried to get an urgent GP appt for a patient this afternoon.  Unable to contact surgery and when I eventually had chance to call in, GP highlighted that without computer access he couldn't order appropriate X-Rays therefore appt had to be delayed until Monday.

Trying to make contact

Ruth, Blackburn writes:

As a chemotherapy patient I have a chemo unit helpline number (in case of emergencies and queries). Due to this cyber attack (didn't know this at the time of ringing) I could not get through. The phone lines had gone down. My query was not an emergency but was related to an important prescription. This is a real problem for the hospital and mine is just an example of the chaos it is causing. This could ultimately cost lives.

FedEx falls victim to ransomware

FedEx lorry
Reuters

Another firm that has confirmed it has been caught out by the cyber-attack is delivery company FedEx, although it did not clarify in which territories it has been hit.

"Like many other companies, FedEx is experiencing interference with some of our Windows-based systems caused by malware," it said in a statement.

"We are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible."

West Midlands A&E 'extremely busy'

Sara describes the scene at the accident and emergency department at the University Hospital Coventry.

"It was extremely busy and hot and there were hardly any seats. The queue to be registered went out the door. 

"They told people as they queued that there was a delay as the system was down. 

"I am still waiting to be seen for an X-ray. I hope they are able to do it as obviously it will be done using a computer."

Queues at the University Hospital Coventry A&E
Sara

Russian Interior Ministry targeted in attack

About 1,000 computers at the Russian Interior Ministry have been affected by the cyber-attack, spokeswoman Irina Volk told Interfax news agency.

The news agency quoted the ministry as saying it had "localised the virus" and work was under way to destroy it.

Interfax added the the ministry had said servers were not affected "owing to the use of other operating systems and homemade servers with Russian Elbrus processors". 

'Carnage today': A dark verdict from London

An anonymous NHS staffer tells us: 

"Absolute carnage in the NHS today. Two Hyperacute stroke centres (the field I work in) in London have closed as of this afternoon. Patients will almost certainly suffer and die because of this.

"Had a patient that needed urgent neurosurgery referred, but unable to look at scans - stroke care is absolutely dependent on IT systems and joined up systems."

Wales remains unaffected by attack

The NHS in Wales has reported there are no issues with malware on any of its systems.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We have had no reported cyber incidents affecting NHS Wales but are monitoring the situation closely."

'Things are taking longer' - York hospital trust

BBC Radio York

York Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust says no operations have been cancelled as a result of the attack and surgeries will be continuing as usual over the weekend.

But some MRI scans will be cancelled.

There have been no issues with sterilising equipment 

Hospitals in Scarborough, Bridlington, York and Malton and Selby have had their email systems taken down.

Community services in Malton and Selby are also affected.

The trust said the attack "is having an impact - things are taking longer". 

Plans are in place if the virus spreads so that the hospital can continue to run, it added.

The hospital pharmacy is operating as usual and staff are still looking at if any routine appointments or scans need to be cancelled over the weekend.   

York trust cancels some breast screening services

In Catterick, Helmsley, Pickering, Malton and York breast screening services have been cancelled.  

NHS has faced cyber-attacks before

BBC health reporter Philippa Roxby reminds us that the NHS has faced cyber security issues in the past.

The NHS has been hit by cyber-attacks before - but not on this scale. Disruption is inevitable, particularly when something as important as patient records cannot be accessed by hospitals and GPs. This means appointments and operations having to be cancelled and rescheduled, and patients being transferred to hospitals that are not affected. But the NHS is stressing that it is still open for business and will do its best to give people the care they need, particularly in a genuine emergency. However, the message is to use the NHS wisely until computer systems are up and running again.

Explaining the global ransomware outbreak

What is ransomware, how does it work and what can be done to stop it? The BBC takes a look at the WannaCry virus.

New cyber defence agency in the spotlight

Dominic Casciani

Home Affairs Correspondent

The NHS ransomware attack is the biggest test (that we know of) for the National Cyber Security Centre. What’s that? It’s the UK’s frontline. 

Cyber attacks are ranked among the top threats faced by the UK - but successive governments have been at odds and ends over how best to confront them. So much so in fact that MPs recently warned that ministers had taken too long to consolidate an alphabet soup of agencies

The NCSC is supposed to be helping put an end to all that. Its first chief, Ciaran Martin, said at the official opening in February that he wanted those who electronically attack the UK to “think of us as the hardest of targets”. 

Today clearly shows they have a lot of work ahead. 

While they get on with it, here’s a link to the NCSC guide on how organisations - big and small - can protect themselves from ransomware.  

NCSC LOGO
NCSC

Cybercrime won't beat NHS

Dr Ayesha Malik posted this uplifting comment on WhatsApp:

"I work as a GP in South London. It's times like these that you realise how the NHS staff come together to tackle adversity. Good old fashioned medicine and handwritten paper prescriptions - cybercrime won't beat us yet".

How much is the ransom?

Computers in thousands of locations have apparently been locked by a program that demands $300 (£230) in Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency, which is purchased with real money. 

Paper-based system 'is tried and tested'

Royal Berkshire Hospital entrance sign
Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading says access to patient records has not been affected but there are issues with the system it uses for discharging people.

Staff have reverted to using paper for these and some test results but maintain their paper-based system is "tried and tested" and that patient safety has not been compromised.

However, the hospital does warn that patients should expect some delays to their care.

'Biggest worry' for NHS staff is data security

One doctor says using paper and pen is not uncommon when computer systems fail.

View more on twitter

NHS cyber-attack: 'Quite scary and dangerous'

Radio 4 PM

The National Health Service across England has been hit by a large scale cyber attack.

Several NHS organisations in England and Scotland have had their computer systems compromised.

Chris Maguire, a clinical pharmacist in North Yorkshire, explains to PM how the cyber-attack affected him and his colleagues.

NHS 'not specific target for attack'

Theresa May
BBC
"This is not targeted at the NHS", Theresa May says

The PM has spoken to reporters about the cyber-attack on NHS Digital.

Theresa May says: "We are aware that a number of NHS organisations have reported that they have suffered from a ransomware attack. 

"This is not targeted at the NHS, it's an international attack and a number of countries and organisations have been affected. 

"The National Cyber Security Centre is working closely with NHS digital to ensure that they support the organisations concerned and that they protect patient safety. 

"And, we are not aware of any evidence that patient data has been compromised."

How widespread is the attack?

Earlier we were aware of 11 countries which have been affected by the ransomware cyber-attack.

But now there have been reports of infections in as many as 74 countries, including the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain, Italy and Taiwan. 

NHS trusts 'ran outdated software'

Some who have followed the issue of NHS cyber security are sharing a report from the IT news site Silicon, which reported last December that NHS trusts had been running outdated Windows XP software.

The website says that Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP back in April 2014, meaning it was no longer fixing vulnerabilities in the system - except for clients that paid for an extended support deal. 

The UK government initially paid Microsoft £5.5 million to keep providing security support - but the website adds that this deal ended in May 2015.

'Senseless attack makes NHS staff work harder' - Unison

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "Staff are already facing huge challenges to keep the health service running and deliver the best care for patients. 

"This senseless cyber-attack will make their jobs even harder. The government must take urgent action to get hospitals up and running again. 

"They must also spend the cash to protect staff and patients from future incidents." 

May: This is part of wider international attack

There is no evidence that patient data has been compromised, Prime Minister Theresa May confirms in a statement. 

The disruption to NHS Digital is part of a wider international cyber attack, she adds.

Newborns 'unable to have wrist name tags'

Nurses at the Royal London Hospital have been unable to print identity tags to go around the wrists of newborn babies.

Warren Jones' partner gave birth to their fourth daughter, Laurie, at about 10.30am this morning.

The 24-year-old courier said: "I don't know what is going on, basically they are saying nobody is going to be around today, we are ready to go home.

"They are basically saying it is full, there are so many people, it is rammed, but they don't want to let people go.

"It is normal to have two baby tags - we have got no tags. They can't print them out I'm guessing. 

"It is a bit disappointing really, I don't know how easy it is but they have taken over a whole system and shut it down." 

Explore ways to protect us from cyber-attacks, say Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb, the party's health spokesman, says today's cyber-attack is "deeply disturbing" and warned of "potentially awful consequences for patients".

"It shows we urgently need to explore what steps could be taken to better protect vital systems like this from cyber-attacks."

Norman Lamb
PA

NHS Lanarkshire 'closing down non-essential IT systems'

An NHS Lanarkshire spokesman says the trust is closing down its non-essential networked IT systems "as a precaution".

It says this will be temporary while specialists work to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

Patients are advised to stay away from Lanarkshire's A&Es unless they genuinely need immediate treatment.

Turn it off!

Kate tells us:

“This was the message staff were getting on their computers as I was leaving work.”

Computer screen grab
Kate Cunniffe

A Canadian's first experience of the NHS

Andy, (currently in) London, says:

"I was in A&E for the first time this morning. I'm Canadian so I hadn't experienced the NHS before. I learned about the attack when a staff member came into the waiting room and explained that the delay was because of the cyber- attack.

"They were very professional, and worked really hard to make sure patients were still treated with respect and in a timely manner."

'My heart surgery was cancelled'

Patrick Ward was all prepared to have a septal myectomy today. He was in a gown, had been "nil by mouth" and already had a cannula [the thin tube that drains fluid] inserted when his operation was cancelled at the 11th hour.

NHS chief: 'Trusts will activate silver command'

Radio 4 PM

Saffron Cordery, director of policy and strategy at NHS Providers which represents NHS trusts, says trusts will aim to ensure they handle the situation as quickly as possible to minimise the impact on patients.

Royal Berkshire Hospital affected by cyber-attack

Linda Serck

BBC South

A statement on the hospital foundation trust's website says:

"There are currently national issues with the NHS IT network. Some of the RBFT telephone lines may also be affected. Engineers are aware of these and are seeking to rectify the issue.

"Patient care remains unaffected, although there may be some delays as we switch on to our backup systems.

"We apologise for any inconvenience."

Patient tells of cancelled scan

An anonymous patient tell us:

I had an MRI at Hexham, Northumberland, tonight so I called to find out if I should still go. I was told yes as the scans were being burned onto discs rather than go on the system but have since been called back and it has been cancelled as staff have been told to turn off all equipment as it’s not known how deep into the system the virus is.

Outbreaks in 11 countries

Cybersecurity expert Prof Alan Woodward says 11 countries are reporting outbreaks of this WCry ransomware, with Spain and Russia the worst affected so far.

NHS England's message of reassurance

NHS Incident Director, Dr Anne Rainsberry, said: "We'd like to reassure patients that if they need the NHS and it's an emergency that they should visit A&E or access emergency services in the same way as they normally would and staff will ensure they get the care they need. 

"More widely we ask people to use the NHS wisely while we deal with this major incident which is still ongoing."

She added there are contingency plans to "keep the NHS open for business".

Dr Anne Rainsberry
BBC

Noisy Newark

A reader, whose sister works in Newark Hospital, in Nottinghamshire, contacts us to report that fire alarms at the hospital are going off so local fire services are being affected as well as hospital staff.

Admin worker poses question about NHS email filters

An anonymous admin worker tells us: I'm an admin worker for Oxford University Hospitals and can confirm our systems are unaffected, but I've had a lot of what look like phishing emails asking me to upgrade my account in the last 2-3 weeks. Having never had any of those get past our email filters before I wonder if those are connected.