The human cost of cyber threats

Last week, a cyber attack on a pathology laboratory providing services to hospitals in the UK’s NHS system caused significant harm to blood transfusion patients, as reported across many media outlets.

Synnovis services have affected King’s College Hospital, Guy’s and St Thomas’, the Royal Brompton, the Evelina London Children’s Hospital and GP services across Bexley, Greenwich, Lewisham, Bromley, Southwark and Lambeth boroughs.

It is alleged that a state-sponsored ransomware attack crippled the IT systems of Synnovis, which meant that automated safety checks were unable to be performed. “There will be an increased risk of error, which could potentially harm patients significantly. This is why we ask that you consider the need for transfusion and weigh this risk against the risk of error.”


The cyber incident has caused problems with the following:

  • End-to-end automated blood issuing
  • Pathology tests must be ordered, and the results are given manually, creating a bottleneck.
  • The cancellation of most elective surgery and the delay or cancellation of transfusions.


We have seen significant increases in cyber attacks within the NHS and supporting service providers to the NHS in recent years; in this instance, critical care services have been affected.

Cyber resilience is vital to preparing and protecting IT systems to help prevent and minimise the impact of such attacks. Public services must be protected.

We can also help now! If you are a registered blood donor, please give blood. If you not a registered blood donor, but are able to do so, please register





3 O positive and O negative donors asked to urgently book appointments to give blood following London hospitals IT incident – NHS Blood and Transplant (