NHS to face rise in cyber-attacks, warn experts

NHS experts have warned of a major growth in cyber-attacks over the next few years, ahead of one of the UK’s largest gathering of healthcare professionals taking place later this month.

testThousands of delegates will attend the UK Health Show on 28th September in London’s Olympia, to engage on issues crucial to the future of the NHS.

Some 98% of those questioned in a survey ahead of the event expressed concerns about cyber security threats now facing the NHS, with more than 84% adding that they expected their organisation to face an increase in attacks during the next several years.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt called in September for the NHS to better reflect the “era of the smartphone”, with plans for greater use of smartphones and tablet devices by patients to access healthcare records, NHS services and medical advice. But 70% of professionals due to attend the Cyber Security in Healthcare conference, part of the UK Health Show, cast doubts on the NHS’ ability to securely share confidential patient data on apps and mobile devices.

NHS professionals due to attend a dedicated healthcare technology conference at the show, also revealed further concerns in an additional survey. The majority agreed that NHS use of digital tools had improved in recent years, and that technological transformation was now essential for NHS efficiency and greater patient involvement in care decisions. But more than 80% of delegates expressed a lack of confidence that the NHS would meet its 2020 paperless deadline.

The widely held view supports findings from an independent review commissioned by Jeremy Hunt and led by Professor Bob Wachter, which only weeks ago called on the government to abandon its 2020 paperless NHS target, arguing that no change facing the health service is likely to be as “important or challenging as creating a fully digitised NHS”. Professor Wachter will be addressing delegates at the UK Health Show conference via a live-stream.

Across the two surveys more than 500 senior healthcare professionals due to attend September’s event responded.

Alexander Rushton, UK Health Show event director, said: “Technology will play a big role in shaping the future of the NHS and the way patients access services. UK Health Show delegates responding to the surveys have shown overwhelming confidence in the transformational power of data and technology, but have also revealed areas requiring immediate attention for this to happen.

“Delegates will now gather next week to discuss these issues and learn and benefit from best practice case studies on how to prepare for cyber-attacks and more generally about how technology is being used to improve patient care and save money.”

The UK Health Show will feature contributions from NHS England, Department of Health, NHS Digital, NHS Improvement, the Information Commissioner’s Office, NICE, NHS Clinical Commissioners, the Care Quality Commission and Public Health England and will feature presentations from senior leaders across healthcare.

The UK Health Show is a merger of several large events on the healthcare calendar, including the well-established Healthcare Efficiency Through Technology (HETT) event, which has allowed innovative NHS uses of technology to be shared more widely. HETT has been combined with Commissioning in Healthcare, another key event in the sector, along with three entirely new conference streams on procurement, estates and cyber security, to provide a wide-reaching learning opportunity for NHS professionals in a single day.

Key speakers include globally renowned digital expert Professor Bob Wachter, Andy Williams, chief executive of NHS Digital, Keith McNeil, chief clinical information officer at NHS England; Professor Martin Severs, Caldicott guardian on the National Data Guardian’s Panel; Jim Mackey, chief executive of NHS Improvement; Dr Phil Moore, chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners Mental Health Network; and Julia Manning, chief executive of 2020health.