Cyber Essentials
February 25, 2024
Approx 4 min read

Government Launches NHS Cyber Security Strategy: What This Means for NHS Suppliers

Written by
Lorena Stuart

The UK government has recently unveiled an ambitious seven-year cyber security strategy for the NHS and adult social care sectors, with the primary objective of improving the cybersecurity resilience of the NHS. This initiative comes as a response to the growing number of cyber attacks targeting the healthcare industry, such as the devastating WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017, which significantly impacted the NHS.

This new cybersecurity framework is underpinned by the National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Assessment Framework, which aims to improve the cybersecurity posture of some of the UK’s most critical sectors, including government, healthcare and defence. 

While NHS suppliers are already required to meet compliance with frameworks such as NHS DSPT, DTAC and Cyber Essentials, this new cyber security strategy will require current and prospective NHS suppliers to strengthen their data security and privacy measures further.

The strategy includes five critical pillars designed to minimise the risk of cyber-attacks and improve cyber security across the sector:
  • Identifying areas vulnerable to cyber risk: The government aims to pinpoint the areas in the sector where disruption would cause the most significant harm to patients, such as breaches of patient information systems or clinical databases. As a supplier, you should regularly assess your security vulnerabilities, particularly if your systems can access patient information. 
  • Uniting the sector for greater security collaboration: The strategy calls for greater collaboration across the UK’s health and social care sectors, leveraging its scale to rapidly develop and implement the security measures required to keep patient information and critical systems safe. A significant aspect of this pillar is likely to focus on enhancing the security of third parties and suppliers, particularly after the supply chain attacks suffered by the NHS in 2022. While details have yet to be released, the government will likely roll out additional security governance processes to help third parties and suppliers protect their systems from threats.
  • Building a cyber-savvy culture: Organisations looking to supply to the NHS must ensure that their leadership is actively engaged in maintaining a robust cyber security posture and that their teams have regularly received adequate cyber security training. This measure is essential to meeting compliance with the NHS DSPT, which requires organisations looking to become NHS suppliers to provide continuous cybersecurity training. 
As a trusted partner, Naq is already helping NHS suppliers quickly meet compliance with the government’s new NHS security strategy. Automate your NHS DSPT, DTAC and cyber security obligations through Naq’s easy-to-use platform. Click here to find out more. 
  • Embedding security within emerging technology: As the NHS embraces emerging technologies like cloud and AI solutions to improve treatment outcomes, it’s crucial for suppliers, especially those developing solutions, to integrate security measures throughout the development process of their solutions. As an NHS supplier, you must ensure your products and services adhere to the latest security standards and have been designed with cyber resilience in mind. Security measures to include as part of your development process includes conducting regular penetration tests and security assessments, implementing robust data encryption measures, and keeping software updated to protect against developing vulnerabilities.

  • Minimising the impact of cyber incidents: The updated NHS security strategy focuses on minimising the impact of data breaches and cybersecurity incidents by urging suppliers to establish and regularly update their incident response plans. As a supplier, developing a plan for responding to potential cyber-attacks or data breaches is essential. This means identifying possible threats and vulnerabilities in your systems, assigning responsibilities to team members for responding to incidents, and regularly practising and testing your plan to ensure it is effective.

In conclusion, the new NHS cyber security strategy marks a significant milestone in the ongoing efforts to protect patient data and strengthen cybersecurity across the healthcare sector. With the number of cyber attacks on the rise, NHS suppliers must take proactive measures to protect their systems and maintain the trust of the NHS and its patients.

By implementing the recommended measures outlined in the strategy, such as regularly assessing vulnerabilities, developing robust incident response plans, and embedding security in emerging technology, suppliers can help to minimise the risk of cyber-attacks and improve the sector’s overall cybersecurity posture.

At Naq, we understand the challenges that NHS suppliers face when it comes to meeting compliance with ever-changing regulations and standards. Our platform automates compliance with the frameworks demanded by the healthcare industry, including NHS DSPT, DTAC, and ISO27001.

By automating compliance, Naq saves your organisation time and resources and ensures that your systems remain secure and keep up with the latest cyber security and data privacy regulations. Click here to learn more.