London Hospitals Cyberattack Leads to Blood Shortages After Synnovis Ransomware Attack

Written by Mitchell Langley

June 11, 2024

London Hospitals Cyberattack Leads to Blood Shortages After Synnovis Ransomware Attack

Hospitals across London struggle with blood shortages following Synnovis ransomware attack.

Hospitals across London are facing severe shortages of blood supplies in their blood banks after a Synnovis ransomware attack incident that hit the IT systems of NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) last week.  

The ransomware attack disrupted the operations of NHSBT, which is responsible for the collection and supply of blood and transplants across the National Health Services (NHS) in England and North Wales. No information about the actors behind the attack have been revealed yet.

After the ransomware infection was discovered on November 25, NHSBT immediately shut down many of its IT systems as a precautionary measure. This led to major disruptions in collecting blood from donors as well as transporting existing stock between hospitals.

“We had to manually switch to backup processes to ensure blood components continued to reach hospitals across England and North Wales. But our capacity has undoubtedly been impacted by the IT issues caused,” said an NHSBT spokesperson.

An internal NHS document quoted by the Health Service Journal said hospitals that depend on blood supplies from NHSBT were struggling with ” dangerously low” blood stocks since the attack occurred. They warned that elective surgeries requiring blood transfusions may need to be postponed until stock levels improved.

“All hospitals have been asked to stockpile and redistribute blood wherever possible in the meantime. But there is a high possibility of shortfalls, especially among the rarest blood groups. The situation needs close monitoring over the next few days,” said the document.

Pauline Gore, a resident of London, had to postponely her ankle surgery scheduled for this week after the hospital said they did not have enough O negative blood currently available. “They said with the issues at the blood service, they cannot ensure they have what’s needed if any complications arose during surgery.” commented Gore.

NHSBT acknowledged they are still recovering from the Synnovis ransomware attack’s impact on their systems. The national transfusion service said they are working closely with hospitals to prioritize existing stocks based on medical necessity. Full restoration of their IT infrastructure is ongoing with help from the National Cyber Security Centre.

The London hospitals cyberattack that was a direct result of the Synnovis ransomware attack have highlighted the risks public health services face from cyberattacks.

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