Hospitals in England are shutting down after being hit by a large scale cyber attack, health authority NHS England has confirmed.
Emergency patients are being diverted after an unknown number of hospitals are reported to have been hit simultaneously by a bug in their IT systems, with messages demanding money.
NHS England said it was aware of the problem and would release more details soon, newspaper The Guardian reports.
Doctors have been posting messages of disbelief and anger on Twitter.
A screen grab of a instant message conversation circulated by one doctor says: "So our hospital is down … We got a message saying your computers are now under their control and pay a certain amount of money. And now everything is gone," according to the Guardian.
One doctor, going by the Twitter handle "B", tweeted: "Massive NHS hack cyber attack today. Hospital in shut down. Thanks for delaying emergency patient care & endangering lives. Assholes."
East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust, one of the those affected, said in a statement: "Today (Friday, 12 May 2017), the trust has experienced a major IT problem, believed to be caused by a cyber attack.
"Immediately on discovery of the problem, the trust acted to protect its IT systems by shutting them down; it also meant that the trust’s telephone system is not able to accept incoming calls.
"The trust is postponing all non-urgent activity for today and is asking people not to come to A&E – please ring NHS111 for urgent medical advice or 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.
"To ensure that all back-up processes and procedures were put in place quickly, the trust declared a major internal incident to make sure that patients already in the trust’s hospitals continued to receive the care they need."
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