Recent Cyber Attacks Intensify Worries Over Healthcare IT Systems

Building upon our recent blog post, which highlighted a BBC News investigation into the NHS’s challenges with IT system failures, there has been an escalating media focus on how IT issues are affecting healthcare outcomes.

In recent years, the healthcare sector has increasingly relied on information technology (IT) systems to manage patient records, streamline workflows, and improve patient care. However, several incidents have highlighted the potential risks and consequences when these systems fail.

A Recent Cyber-Attack on Major Hospitals

In June 2024, major hospitals in the UK declared a critical incident after a cyber-attack led to operations being cancelled and emergency patients being diverted elsewhere. The attack affected hospitals partnered with a provider of pathology services. The incident had a “major impact” on the delivery of services, especially blood transfusions and test results. Some procedures were cancelled or redirected to other healthcare providers as the hospitals tried to establish what work could be carried out safely. 

The healthcare system confirmed that emergency care continued to be available. However, the incident caused significant disruption, with patients being told to go home and wait for a new date. This incident underscores the vulnerability of healthcare IT systems to cyber-attacks, and the potential for such attacks to disrupt critical healthcare services and impact patient outcomes.

ICO Warning at a University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust in 2023

This issue isn’t novel, and it has necessitated intervention from the ICO. In October 2023, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued a reprimand to University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust’s computer system caused some patient referrals to be delayed or lost altogether. This mishandling of data affected nearly 5,000 patients, causing distress, inconvenience, and in some cases, significant delays in medical treatment.


These incidents underscore the urgent need for robust, reliable IT systems in healthcare. While the aim of making the healthcare system paperless and ensuring everyone’s health information is accessible at the touch of a button is commendable, the implementation of these systems must be done with utmost care. The cost of IT failures in healthcare is not just financial - it can also lead to serious harm and even loss of life. As we move forward, it is crucial that lessons are learned from these incidents to prevent future harm.

You can learn more about IT Challenges in healthcare services below:

ICO reprimands University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust for lost referrals | ICO

NHS computer problems put patients at risk of harm - BBC News

Cyber-attack on London hospitals declared critical incident - BBC News

Our clinical negligence team has a wealth of experience in dealing with a variety of clinical negligence claims. If you think that you, or a loved one, may have been affected by negligent medical care, you are welcome to contact Karen Reynolds, Siobhan Genever, Lauren Green, Sonya Friend or Ibrahim Mahmood to discuss how we can help and support you.

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