Security company Palo Alto Networks has released new findings on independent research into the state of cybersecurity within the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

The company worked with Vanson Bourne and surveyed 100 NHS IT decision-makers on the importance of data security in the wake of recent cyberattacks such as WannaCry and preparedness for forthcoming tougher data protection rules.

As part of the study, the awareness of NHS IT managers and understanding of how the Department of Health is planning to change cybersecurity requirements for healthcare providers was revealed.

Palo Alto Networks Western Europe regional vice-president Dave Allen said: “Digitisation can reap considerable benefits for NHS patients and staff, yet the capacity to save money and improve patient care through more seamless, digital processes is dependent on how the NHS leverages cybersecurity to maintain trust, while capitalising on its exponential data growth.

“Preventing successful cyberattacks will be paramount in reducing disruption to medical services and improving patient trust, leading to the greater ability to use data to improve health outcomes.”

During the survey, 90% of the respondents believe that prioritising cybersecurity in the NHS will unlock the potential of digitalisation to improve patient care.

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Furthermore, they agreed that cybersecurity investment could enable savings in the long run (83%).

Improved cybersecurity is expected to save enough money to allow for an additional 150 doctors and 250 nurses within the NHS, according to the survey’s respondents.

The benefits of cybersecurity are believed to have a wide significance, with 65% believing that it would improve the level of patient trust.

Almost half (49%) of the respondents think cybersecurity would streamline processes, and 45% see long-term cost-savings.

With recent cyberattacks, NHS IT managers say that more can still be done for a widespread cybersecurity culture within the NHS, by the way of improved training and education.

However, 41% felt that specific training should be given to all staff and a minority of NHS IT professionals said that cybersecurity training is provided only to front-line staff accessing IT systems.

The staff includes administrators (30%), doctors (11%) and nurses (6%).

According to the research, IT decision-makers mostly think that patients have a good or complete level of trust in how the NHS uses or stores their data (81% and 67%, respectively).

More than one in ten (16%) put very little trust in how their data could then be used by the NHS.