NHS England computer systems have been hit by a suspected large-scale cyber attack, with phones and IT support at some hospitals knocked out.
In total 16 NHS trusts and hospitals have been affected, with the management of hospitals in Blackpool and Stevenage asking patients not to attend Accident and Emergency wards.
Doctors have also reportedly resorted to using pen and paper as their computers have been turned off.
Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust says it has suffered a “secure system attack” and has shut down its IT systems as a result.
A statement from NHS Digital said the systems were hit by so-called ransomware, which encrypts the files on a computer and demands a payment before allowing the user to recover their material.
“At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed. We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this,” it reads
“NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisation and to recommend appropriate mitigations.
“This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors.”
The Government’s intelligence service, GCHQ, has said it is aware of the reports and is investigating.
NHS staff have shared screenshots online of a programme apparently demanding $300 payment in the virtual currency Bitcoin.
It follows what appears to have been a similar attack last year on three hospitals in the US which was investigated by the FBI.