NHS to face rise in cyber attacks, warn experts

Healthcare professionals reveal concerns over sharing patient data on smartphones, digital deadlines, and rising cyber-attacks

NHS experts have warned of a major growth in cyber attacks over the next few years.

Speaking ahead of the UK Health Show, one of the country’s largest gathering of healthcare professionals, some 98% of those questioned as part of a survey expressed concerns about cyber security threats now facing the NHS, with more than 84% expecting their organisation to face an increase in attacks over the coming years.

Technology will play a big role in shaping the future of the NHS and the way patients access services

And they will outline their concerns, and the possible solutions, at the show, which will be held on 28 September at London Olympia.

The comments come after Health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, called 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 doubt on the NHS’s 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 report commissioned by 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 conference via a live stream.

Across the two surveys more than 500 senior healthcare professionals the event responded.

Delegates will gather to discuss the 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

Alexander Rushton, 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 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.”

An independent report by Professor Bob Wachter called on the Government to abandon its 2020 paperless NHS target

The show will feature contributions from NHS England, the 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.

Key speakers include globally-renowned digital expert, Professor 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, chairman of NHS Clinical Commissioners Mental Health Network; and Julia Manning, Chief Executive of 2020health.

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