The must read stories and biggest talking points in the NHS

Major hospitals hit by computer virus

At the start of this week HSJ predicted that cyber security would have to become an essential part of NHS managers’ jobs in 2017, but we didn’t expect it to come true quite so quickly.

On Friday, we revealed that one of the biggest hopsital trusts in the country, Barts Health, had been attacked by a ransomware virus, causing it to take its pathology service offline at three hopsitals. The trust has also turned off the ability for departments to file share data until the situation has been resolved.

A source at the trust told HSJ the attack had affected thousands of files on the trust’s Windows 7 and Windows XP operating systems (the latter is also used by Trident submarines, our contributor Rob Findlay points out).

HSJ correspondent James Illman tweeted how the Barts case was a prime example of why NHS England shouldn’t just focus technology funding on digital “exemplars”, and said: “Expect more of this in 2017. Ageing NHS tech is an easy hacking target.”

Last September, following the Wachter review into NHS IT, HSJ warned that a robust plan was still needed for the more “digitally challenged” NHS organisations.

Sir Leonard on leave

Questions surround why NHS’s longest serving chief executive, Sir Leonard Fenwick, has taken an extended leave of absence.

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust confirmed Sir Leonard was on extended leave on Thursday, but have not said why or for how long.

Sir Leonard has been an NHS chief executive for nearly 40 years after joining the NHS as a management trainee in 1965.

NHS Improvement further muddied the waters with a statement saying the chair and non-executive directors were holding “the executive” to account on “behalf of patients and taxpayers” but not what they were holding them to account over.

Stevens staying put (for now)

Stevens vs May rumbled into a third consecutive day, with The Daily Telegraph reporting that the NHS England chief executive could risk his job if he doesn’t “calm things down” following his combative appearance at the public accounts committee over NHS funding.

Meanwhile, editor Alastair McLellan writes that Simon Stevens will not resign, but “HSJ is equally sure Mr Stevens would walk away if he felt he could not secure the government’s backing for his plans for the NHS”.

This week’s row has raised the stakes around the forthcoming Five Year Forward View update and the spring budget in March, and has essentially turned the update into a funding bid.