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Cyber Attack: Advice for Patients
15 May 2017

NHS England
14th May, 2017

Cyber Attack: Advice for patients

A number of NHS organisations have been affected by a ransomware attack (an attack on the IT systems which support NHS services). This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS but it has had an impact on NHS services.   

The NHS is working hard to ensure that as few patients as possible are affected.  Below is guidance for those accessing the NHS over the coming days. 

Planned treatment and outpatient appointments

If you have a planned operation, procedure or outpatient appointment at a hospital affected by this incident, you should attend as planned.  Please visit the hospital website for further advice and information about routine services at this time. If you are still unsure what to do, contact the hospital directly.

Patients already in hospital at this time will continue to receive normal care. Inpatients will be told if any changes to their planned treatment are needed because of this incident.

If you have a GP appointment Patients with GP appointments scheduled should attend for their appointment unless they have been contacted by their GP and told not to do so. Your GP practice will be open and working as normal during at this time. However, you may experience some difficulties contacting the surgery while telephone systems are being reconnected.   Appointments may be slower than usual, as some surgeries will be using paper based records whilst electronic systems are switched back on

Helping the NHS at this time

You can help the NHS cope by choosing the right service for your needs, and attending A&E only if it is essential.    Apart from your hospital, there’s a range of other primary care services that can offer help, such as your GP, pharmacist, dentist or optician. There are also specific services provided by midwives, health visitors and specialist nurses.

A&E

If you need emergency care, Accident and Emergency departments are open to deal with serious and life-threatening conditions. As is always the case, only those adults and children with genuine emergency needs should go to A&E. Emergencies include:

  • major injuries, such as broken limbs or severe head injury
  • loss of consciousness
  • an acute confused state
  • fits
  • severe chest pain
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that can't be stopped
  • severe allergic reactions
  • severe burns or scalds

Alternatives to A&E

If you become ill with a non-urgent condition and need advice, please visit Health A-Z for information or go to your local pharmacist. For more urgent conditions that you believe you can’t take care of yourself, you should contact your GP as usual, or call 111.

For minor injuries or illness (cuts, sprains, rashes and so forth) you could visit a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit or urgent care centre if the problem can't wait for a GP appointment. Bear in mind that these services may be busy because of the incident which has just occurred.

Updated statement from NHS England on hospital and GP services: 

Dr Anne Rainsberry, NHS Incident Director, said: "The NHS has continued to treat patients throughout the weekend. We have been working with 47 organisations providing urgent and emergency care who have been infected to varying degrees. Most have found ways of working around this but seven, including St Barts in London, have asked for extra support.

"If you have a hospital appointment you should still attend unless you are contacted and told not to.

"We have also been offering advice and assistance to GP surgeries, who will open as usual tomorrow. Again, if you have an appointment you should still attend unless contacted and told not to. 

"People should continue to use the NHS wisely and remember that they can seek help and advice from a range of other sources, such as pharmacies and NHS 111.

"Bearing in mind the impact of the global cyber attack I would urge people to be patient with staff."

External Communications NHS England
 

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