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Posted by: Tom Morris

The major cyber attack on the NHS in May could have been avoided. According to a new government report NHS trusts were left vulnerable because cyber-security recommendations were not followed. The WannaCry ransomware disrupted a third of trusts in England according to the National Audit Office (NAO). The malware encrypted data or infected computers and demanded a ransom roughly equivalent to £230. The virus spread to more than 150 countries worldwide and was the biggest to hit the NHS to date. During the attack in May at least 6,900 NHS appointments including operations were cancelled as a result and approximately 19,000 appointments may have been affected. NHS England said that although no patient data had been compromised or stolen, the NAO chief commented that the department of Health and the NHS must get their act together. The report said there was no evidence any NHS organisation paid the ransom, but the financial cost of the incident remained unknown. An assessment of 88 out of 236 trusts by NHS Digital before the attack found that none passed the required cyber-security standards. Further, that NHS trusts had not acted on critical alerts from NHS Digital nor a warning from the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office in 2014 to migrate away from older and more vulnerable versions of software. Before May 2017 the department had no formal mechanism for assessing whether NHS organisations had complied with its advice and guidance, they could have better managed their computers’ firewalls – but in many cases they did not. (Source – BBC)

Sadiq Khan accuses property developers of constructing too many luxury penthouses that only the very wealthiest investors can afford. In a new assessment of housing needs, Khan said the pace of construction should increase from 29,000 homes a year to 66,000 insisting that 65% of these homes needed to be affordable; the current rate is 38%. The mayor of London went on to describe how the housing crisis is a major factor in the high cost of living in London. For many first time buyers the capital is out of reach, with the majority fearing they will never get a foot on the property ladder. Khan added that in worst cases it can affect social cohesion, cause poor health and plunge residents into poverty. City hall calculates how the new approach will require a major shift in strategy, switching emphasis from building blocks of luxury apartments in central London to constructing family housing in cheaper suburbs. London’s population has increased by a quarter in the last 10 years with an extra 1.7 million people but only 370,000 homes were added. There has been a significant rise in families sharing with other families, with this set up affecting a total of 470,000 households. Successive prime ministers have failed to invest anywhere near enough in building new affordable homes. Boris Johnson stopped investing in homes for social rent altogether and cut the number of new affordable homes he funded to the lowest level since records began. No homes for social rent (cheapest available) were built in London in the last year of Johnson’s Mayoralty. Sadiq Khan is using such figures to put the pressure on Chancellor Phillip Hammond. (Source – The Guardian)

Billions of euros of British taxpayers’ money could remain locked into an EU bank for more than 30 years after Brexit. Alexander Stubb, vice president of the European Investment Bank in which the UK is a 16% shareholder has said that funds will not be fully repaid until 2054. He went on to describe Brexit as a travesty but denied the move was a punishment. The UK has 3.5bn in Euros (£3.1bn) of capital at the bank and a House of Lords report said the UK’s investment could be worth 10.1bn (£8.9bn) euros. Established in 1958, the EIB uses capital provided by EU countries to make loans at low rates, mainly for major infrastructure projects. All 28 EU nations are shareholders in the Luxembourg-based bank, with the UK being one of the largest alongside Germany, France and Italy. Former prime minister of Finland Stubb, told the BBC that the UK’s money will be tied up for decades and that everyone on both sides of the negotiating table agree that we have to pay back the 3.5 billion euro, basically in cash, and that will likely happen over a long period up until 2054. (Source – BBC)

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