Rural Services Network concerned over impact of cyber-attack for rural GPs

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The Rural Services Network (RSN) – England’s largest partnership of rural service providers – has voiced concern at the impact of cyber-attacks on doctors’ surgeries that serve rural communities.

It follows the ‘ransomware’ cyber-attack which left NHS trusts across the UK without access to IT facilities and patients records.

RSN chief executive Graham Biggs said: “This is an extremely worrying situation for rural patients and for small rural practices which operate on a limited budget.”

Much of the media attention had focused on the impact of the cyber-attack on larger hospitals, said Mr Biggs.

But it was important to remember that smaller surgeries had also been affected – including in sparsely populated rural areas.

While some practices were not directly attacked by the cyber-attack, some network connections to data servers and the Internet were affected.

This left GP practices unable to access any patient data – prompting pleas for patients to attend surgery only if their need is urgent.

Mr Biggs said: “It is vital that NHS trusts invest adequately in cyber security as they seek to protect themselves against future attacks.”

• Read more in this week’s paper - out on Wednesday May 17.