US firm Accenture has signed a contract with NHS Digital to provide free-to-adopt perimeter cybersecurity services across the NHS.
The new offering will deploy technology from security firms Palo Alto and Imperva to build on the current provision from the Data Security Centre.
Hospital trusts and other care settings will be able to access security features, including next-generation firewall, secure filtering for web content, network intrusion detection and prevention capabilities, data loss prevention and secure domain name system (DNS) services.
NHS Digital told Healthcare IT News the contract value will be variable based on consumption by NHS organisations, but is forecast at around £40 million ($ 48 million). The new services will be available to trusts for five years from winter 2019/2020.
Meanwhile, figures obtained by think tank Parliament Street, via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, revealed NHS trusts have boosted IT spending by almost £152 million ($ 183 million) since the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017.
WHY IT MATTERS
NHS Digital said the new contract will allow NHS organisations to better secure and manage their digital networks, while enabling expert security specialists to respond quickly to cyberthreats and reduce risk of attacks.
THE LARGER TREND
A recent report led by Professor Lord Ara Darzi at Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation (IGHI) called for investment in cybersecurity to be prioritised to prevent the NHS being a vulnerable target for hackers.
Figures released by Parliament Street revealed that 65 NHS trusts spent a total of around £613 million ($ 740 million) on IT in the 2018/2019 financial year, with around £495 million ($ 598 million) the previous year, which preceded the WannaCry attack.
The highest increase came from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which boosted IT spending from around £7.7 million ($ 9.2 million) to £18.6 million ($ 22.4 million).
The Royal Marsden increased IT spending from £5.5 million ($ 6.6 million) to £16.2 million ($ 19.5 million), and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust from 11.5 million ($ 13.8 million) to £19.5 million ($ 23.5 million).
The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust increased spending from £16.7 million ($ 20.1 million) to £24.2 million ($ 29.2 million).
ON THE RECORD
Rob Shaw, NHS Digital deputy chief executive, said: “This is cutting-edge technology that will help keep patient information and NHS systems safe, at no cost to local organisations. For us, the more organisations that join, the better we will be able to see what is happening across the estate. This means that we will be able to monitor for threats more effectively, supporting the NHS to increase data security and helping to provide safer care for patients.”
Accenture’s UK health lead Niamh McKenna said: “Security threats are ever more present in our increasingly connected world so enabling the safe and secure use of information within and outside the NHS is of paramount importance.”