WannaCry attack: NHS Digital Interim CEO says NHS ‘could do better’

WannaCry, cybersecurity
“So there’s a lot of negative press and publicity against us, but in my opinion, we did really, really well, and the local organisations coped really well, but we could do better,” Rob Shaw, NHS Digital Interim CEO, told delegates at Confed17 today

NHS Digital’s Interim CEO referenced the WannaCry attack at Confed17 today while kicking off the digital stream

[Liverpool, UK] NHS Digital’s Interim CEO Rob Shaw kicked off the digital stream at Confed17 in Liverpool saying that the NHS reacted ‘really, really well’ during the recent WannaCry ransomware attack, but it ‘could do better’ in terms of cyber defence.

On 12 May, services were disrupted at approximately 60 NHS organisations across the UK as a virus infiltrated computer systems of more than 200,000 users in 150 different countries, with Barts Health, the largest NHS trust, or Chelsea and Westminster reportedly being some of the worst-hit. Minutes from Barts Health’s latest board meeting show a report will be presented next month as the trust is still assessing the impact of the cyber attack.

Shaw told delegates today: “I make no apology standing here talking about one of the things we’ve all seen recently, which was the WannaCry issue (…). People can say ‘if it happens again’. I think you’ve got to accept the fact it’s when it happens again (…).

“So there’s a lot of negative press and publicity against us, but in my opinion, we did really, really well, and the local organisations coped really well, but we could do better.

“So, we can be better prepared and we can also make sure that we in the centre provide better communications earlier.”

Sarah Wilkinson expected to take over from Shaw this summer

Shaw went on to add professionals have to fully understand the risk assessment of disconnecting from the N3 network or NHSmail in case of a cyber attack; a recent report carried out by Alan Brown, Interim Director of Informatics at the London North West Healthcare NHS Trust, revealed the IT team decided to isolate three computers that had been infected and then disconnect from the N3 network to prevent further damage.

Shaw took over the NHS Digital CEO role on an interim basis after Andy Williams retired at the end of March. It was later revealed that Sarah Wilkinson, currently the Home Office’s Chief Digital, Data and Technology Officer, has been appointed to head the organisation, with sources telling BJ-HC that she is expected to start during the middle of August. Earlier this month it was also announced NHS Digital’s Director of Digital Transformation, Beverley Bryant, is returning to the supplier community as Chief Operating Officer of the System C & Graphnet Care Alliance