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Ransomware attack on Synnovis: London health services in crisis

Severe disruption to pathology and diagnostic services in London

A ransomware attack has hit Synnovis, a diagnostic services provider in London, disrupting clinical services at major NHS hospitals. The incident primarily impacted blood transfusions and caused postponements of scheduled appointments.

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A ransomware attack has hit pathology and diagnostics provider Synnovis, causing serious damage to healthcare services at several major NHS hospitals in London. While Synnovis has made no official statement on the incident which occurred on 3 June, submissions from partner hospitals highlight that this "critical ongoing incident" has had a "significant impact" on healthcare services in south-east London. According to Professor Ian Abbs, CEO of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, the cyber incident disrupted the connection to Synnovis' IT servers, hampering the provision of several clinical services, especially blood transfusions.

Hospitals involved and implications for the service

The list of affected hospitals includes King's College Hospital, Guy's Hospital, St Thomas' Hospital, Royal Brompton Hospital and Evelina London Children's Hospital. While emergency care remains available, scheduled procedures may be canceled or diverted to other providers. An NHS UK spokesperson assured that patients should continue to access emergency services via 999 and use 111 for other needs. However, some activities and appointments have been postponed to ensure clinical work can be carried out safely, with a particular focus on rapid blood tests, which are now unavailable.

Problems in Synnovis diagnostic services

An alert on the Synnovis customer service portal reports problems in the data center, rendering all systems currently inaccessible. Synnovis, previously known as Viapath, was founded in 2009 as GSTS Pathology and adopted the new name in October 2022. The company is a partnership between SYNLAB UK & Ireland, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. This is not the first time the SYNLAB group has faced ransomware attacks; in fact, Synlab Italia had suspended all diagnostic and testing services at the end of April due to a similar attack

Previous ransomware attacks in healthcare

Last March, the Dumfries & Galloway NHS Health Board in Scotland also suffered a ransomware attack, although in this case the INC Ransom group did not encrypt the systems, but instead released around 3TB of stolen personal data of patients and staff after the refusal of the healthcare institution to interact with the attackers. Fortunately, patient health information, held on a separate system, was not compromised. NHS Dumfries & Galloway said on May 21 that services continued to operate as normal without having to cancel or reschedule appointments or operations.

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06/04/2024 19:40

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