Friday 12 August 2022 10:43 AM Data privacy fears as GPs are sharing patient records on Word documents trends now
GPs are sharing patient records on Word documents via email amid ongoing disruption due to the NHS cyberattack.
There are concerns the move could risk patient privacy.
Advanced, a major IT provider to the health service, are being held ransom by hackers amid concerns millions of confidential records could be affected.
Blackmailers are asking for money in return for not leaking confidential data, leaving the NHS without access to key services in the meantime.
GP practices have now been forced to access vital patient information via Microsoft Word documents sent to their NHS email.
Patient rights groups warned that the emails could be 'easily intercepted' by hackers and puts patients at risk.
They hit out at the over-reliance of digital-only systems in the health service, which leaves it vulnerable to future attacks.
Hackers have issued demands to an IT firm that supplies NHS trusts after it was hacked last week, it was claimed today. Pictured: The company Advanced's Adastra software that is used by 85 per cent of NHS 111 providers in England
Cyber criminals targeted a firm that supplies IT to NHS providers last week.
Software company Advanced, which provides patient data to dozens of trusts and 85 per cent of NHS 111 providers in England, was hacked last Thursday.
Advanced's Adastra software, one of the systems that was attacked and is used by NHS 111, covers 40million patients, according to the company.
Affected NHS 111 call handlers currently do not have access to the GP records or NHS numbers of people ringing the non-emergency service.
They are also unable to make electronic bookings with GPs or send out ambulances for patients while the Adastra software is still offline.
GP notes, mental health records and patients' unique NHS numbers may have been stolen in the attack.
The criminals also hacked the company's Carenotes EPR software, which holds mental health records.
Affected mental health trusts warned staff are currently facing a 'pretty desperate' situation, still unable to access vital patient records.
An update to GP practices in Liverpool, seen by the family doctor magazine Pulse Today, states data-sharing methods is 'not ideal' but medics being blind to the information is a greater risk.
It is not clear if data is being shared with Liverpool-based practices in this way or if the move is widespread. MailOnline has contacted Advanced and the NHS.
The letter states: 'We have agreed that clinical consultation information will be sent in the form of a Microsoft Word document via secure email to your practice nhs.net email account.
'This will allow practices to review key patient information and choose how to record that information in practice systems.'
It added: 'Whilst this is not ideal, it is considered a lower risk to patient care than practices being unsighted on out-of-hours interactions.'
The update told medics to regularly check their emails to make sure they have received the records until they are told the usual 'clinical system' is working again.
Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, a campaign group for the over-sixties told MailOnline warned emails containing patient information can be 'easily intercepted' by hackers intent on doing so.
He said: 'There is increasing over-reliance on digital-only systems and there are not sufficient back-ups if they system is hacked or sabotaged.'
This is making the UK a 'haven for hostile states', as the