By Ovunc Kutlu & Gulbin Yildirim
London briefing, May 15

Cyber attacks on NHS could bring changes in election polls

Cyber attacks on the National Health Service (NHS) affected thousands of patients in the U.K. starting last Friday. Patients were urged to stay away from GPs as a result of the global cyber attacks. According to Europol, this was the result of a “global” cyber attack. Nonetheless, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has so far only stated that lessons need to be learned after the NHS fell victim to the “unprecedented” cyber attack and said there was no evidence patient data had been compromised.

However mounting problems in the NHS system have always been a hot topic in the U.K. especially in the run-up to elections. The opposition has often criticized the Conservative Party for cutting NHS expenditure, which has led to NHS IT departments running outdated systems that have become vulnerable to cyber attacks.

According to recent media reports, 48 health organizations in England and Scotland were affected and at least 16 had to shut down their IT systems, which caused treatment for patients to be either delayed or canceled. So undoubtedly, the ruling Conservative government has now to contain this major issue before the general election on June 8.

Recent government statements reveal that investments in cyber security have doubled to £1.9 billion at the National Cyber Security Center as part of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), but the recent attacks on the NHS database demonstrated that there is still much to be done to secure confidential information on millions of patients.

The Labor party said it would spend an extra £37 billion on the NHS in England over the next five years if the party wins the election. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is highlighting Conservative Party cuts and blaming these austerity policies while the government calls the Labor party’s NHS pledge as nonsensical.

"Jeremy Corbyn can't deliver any of this because his nonsensical economic policies would damage our economy and mean less money for the NHS, not more,” a government spokesperson was quoted as saying earlier on Monday by the BBC.

One way or another, the current situation appears to be a burden on the shoulders of the Conservative Party and its leader Theresa May who is expecting a landslide victory in June’s elections. According to a recent Opinium and ORB poll, the Labor party’s ratings have climbed to 32 percent  - the party's highest in 180 days. A YouGov poll published on Saturday puts Labor at 31 percent, with the Conservatives 18 points ahead on 49 percent. 

Last week’s leaked manifesto of the Labor party saw quite popular pledges such as the scrapping of education tuition fees and the renationalization of energy companies and railways. According to the 43-page manifesto, Corbyn said that Labor would rule out a "no deal" Brexit and refuse to set a migration target. Despite the Conservatives leading in recent polls, it may not be an easy win for the party that has been ruling the country since 2010.




15 May,2017