Friday, 12 May 2017

NHS ransomed and not by politicians

Another surgery visit this morning for a further attempt to take blood samples for testing, this time with success. I was asked to take my blood pressure measuring device in for calibration, which I did. I was surprised to find that 'calibration' meant taking a couple of readings from the surgery's device and mine in turn and comparing them. Rather a misuse of such a technical term. As I'm sure I've said before, both at home and in the surgery, my first 3-4 readings start high, then drop down to a fairly consistent level. It is rare for any medic to take more than a couple of readings, so I've come to the conclusion that their practical observation is of a more general that specific kind, i.e. 'high' or 'low', and accurate data is of concern mostly for those compiling epidemiological statistics. Well, what else have they time for?

After an early lunch, I was collected to go to St German's to take a funeral. It was my third in a row for someone who'd died in their early sixties, and once again the church was full with mourners belonging to a large extended family. It was an unusual occasion, using a hearse of antique appearance drawn by two young purple plumed black stallions to take the coffin of the deceased from home to church and then to the crematorium - during the 'school run' phase of the evening rush hour. Even so, it arrived only five minutes late at Thornhill, after an hour's journey. I was taken ahead by car and had time to spare before the committal.

I was home again just after four, and was pleased to receive another call from my GP, with whom I had a reassuring discussion. I'll see her again after the blood test results have been returned, and find out if any further intervention is needed. Meanwhile I continue with well established medication, and keep an eye on my blood pressure in case it suddenly escalates.

Then my sister June rang to tell me worriedly about breaking news of cyber attacks on the NHS. I asked her if this was about ransomware lockdowns and she confirmed it. I said this was old news, as there's been a spate of this worldwide this past year, but that it may have come into focus if there's been some attacks on London hospitals, which she confirmed. News mostly seems to happen in London according to the mass media. What surprised me, when I checked on the web, was the scale of the outbreak. 

Given these have been happening sporadically over the past year around the globe, the serious news behind the news is that not enough precautionary training has been given to NHS staff at all levels to avoid such attacks, which generally occur because malware infected files are unwittingly opened. The situation is exacerbated because too many NHS computers are running on out of date Windows systems and equipment, and Windows systems across the board contain vulnerabilities due to their basic design, which attackers can readily exploit. If only more use was made of Linux systems which are less susceptible to attacks of this kind. Interestingly enough, I read news earlier today of a version of Ubuntu Linux running medical information management software called NHSbuntu. There used to be a version called Medibuntu with a similar aim, but that closed down four years ago. 

After phone calls, I still had enough time to go shopping before preparing supper. Clare had earlier decided to cook some fava beans using the pressure cooker, and I prepared a dish that could make use of them. Without warning, the valve of the pressure cooker discharged explosively, spraying a fine mist of liquidised beans over the stove and working surfaces. Fava beans cook quickly and when overcooked, dissolve into the liquid used to cook them in, creating a puree. The valve had stuck and the puree overheated until it finally blew. What a mess! It took us ages to clean up. The puree, however wasn't burned and added a pleasant flavour to the vegetables I'd prepared. 

No comments:

Post a Comment