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UK Government boosts NHS cyber security with additional £21 million

Published on 13/07/17 at 11:39am

The government has announced its response to Dame Fiona Caldicott’s 2016 data security review and in the wake of the shocking WannaCry cyberattack on the NHS, with the Department of Health pledging an additional £21 million of capital funds investments to beef up cyber security at 27 hospitals across the country.

The new figure adds to the £50 million already put forward for boosting cyber security. The total funding will cover modernisation of IT infrastructure, training for staff, and greater security measures to guard against potential data breaches.

The government has accepted all ten of the recommendations made by Caldicott’s report, adopting the changes in the NHS Standard Contract 2017/18 and mandating that NHS organisations adopt them. Of these recommendations, NHS leadership will now be responsible for data security, and patients will be provide their consent on usage of their data via a streamlined opt-out system.

Stronger penalties will also be introduced in May 2018 to combat theft or deliberate misuse of data, while the Care Quality Commission will conduct cyber-security assessment as part of its remit as of September this year. It will also be mandatory for executive board members to take responsibility for attacks and report them to Care Computer Emergency Response Team (CareCERT) as soon as possible.

“Data security simply will not improve across the health and social care system without strong board level leadership which views and prioritises data security as importantly as financial integrity and clinical safety”, the report stated.

On the Government’s response, Caldicott commented: “New technological advances offer extraordinary opportunities for patient data to be used to improve people’s individual care and to improve health, care and services through research and planning. We will only be able to harness those opportunities if the public trusts that the health and care system is doing all it can to keep patient data secure, to meet their expectations on confidentiality and to be transparent. I believe that the implementation of my recommendations will be an important step in this process and very much welcome the Government announcements today.”

Matt Fellows

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