Windows XP remains alive and kicking in the National Health Service (NHS) after it was discovered that 42 NHS trusts in the UK still run the defunct OS.
Motherboard filed a Freedom of Information request to more than 70 NHS hospital trusts asking how many Windows XP machines they use. Forty-eight replied within the allotted time, and a whopping 42 of them admitted that they still use the operating system that reached end-of-life in April 2014.
The culprits include East Sussex Healthcare, which has 413 Windows XP machines, Sheffield’s Children’s hospital with 1,290, and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust in London with an insane 10,800 Windows XP PCs.
Twenty-three trusts also replied to Motherboard ‘s questions about whether they have an extended support agreement in place and, unsurprisingly, the majority do not.
This delay in upgrading could land some NHS trusts in trouble. Jon Baines, chairman of the National Association of Data Protection and Freedom of Information Officers, said: “If hospitals knowingly use insecure XP machines and devices to hold and otherwise process patient data they may well be in serious contravention of their obligations. ”
The Department of Health said in an emailed statement sent to Motherboard that it has urged trusts to upgrade systems but that the advice has fallen on deaf ears.
“In April 2014, the Department of Health and the Cabinet Office wrote to all NHS trusts stressing the urgent need for them to move away from Windows XP, and offering transition funding,” it said.
“The National Data Guardian, Dame Fiona Caldicott, has made clear the need for health and care organisations to remove unsupported operating systems. ”
Some of the hospitals said they plan to update their Windows XP machines to a current operating system by the end of the year, while others said they have security mechanisms in place.
The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, which has 181 Windows XP machines, told Motherboard that the hospital had “antivirus software, encryption, intrusion detection, firewalls and a DMZ”.
The NHS isn’t alone in clinging onto Windows XP. It was reported in August that the Met Police still has 27,000 Windows XP-powered machines supported by paid-for security patches.
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