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NHS calls for blood donation after cyberattack on British hospitals

The National Health Service (NHS) is struggling to match patients’ blood after numerous London hospitals have been hit by a ransomware attack. To speed up the process, the healthcare system is appealing to people to donate O-type blood, the universal donor.

Last week, seven London hospitals fell victim to a ransomware attack. The incident had a crippling effect on daily affairs: tests, operations and other medical treatments had to be cancelled. To prevent further spreading of the malicious software, hospital servers had to be disconnected. Since then doctors and other medical personnel have to rely on pen and paper to do their job.

According to former chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) Ciaran Martin, a Russian group of cybercriminals called Qilin is responsible for the attack.

“These criminal groups operate freely from within Russia. They give themselves high-profile names, they’ve got websites on the so-called dark web, and this particular group has about a two-year history of attacking various organizations across the world. They’re simply looking for money,” Martin said in an interview with the BBC.

More O blood-type donations needed because of cyber attack

The ransomware attack is also having an impact on the day-to-day operations of the NHS Blood and Transplant department. Hospitals hit by the attack cannot match patients’ blood at the same speed and frequency as usual. Therefore the division is tempting to get its hands on more O blood-type donations.

“To support London hospitals to carry out more surgeries and to provide the best care we can for all patients, we need more O-negative and O-positive donors than usual. Please book an urgent appointment to give blood at one of our 25 town and city donor centres which currently have good appointment availability,” dr. Gail Miflin, chief medical officer at NHS Blood and Transplant, tells The Guardian.

Prof. Stephen Powis, medical director for NHS England, underlines that NHS staff are continuing ‘to go above and beyond’ to minimize the impact of the ransomware attack. It’s currently impossible to say when all systems will be operational again.

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