NHS Dumfries and Galloway has been hit by a cyber attack, with the health board saying a “significant quantity” of data has been put at risk and services could potentially be disrupted.

In a statement posted to its website on Friday, the board said the attack was “focused and ongoing” and the files accessed could include “patient-identifiable and staff-identifiable data,” with NHS workers and the public encouraged to “be on their guard”.

The nature of the attack is currently unclear.

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The statement said: “NHS Dumfries and Galloway has been the target of a focused and ongoing cyber attack.

“This prompted a swift response in line with our established protocols, working with partner agencies including Police Scotland, the National Cyber Security Agency and the Scottish Government.

“There may be some disruption to services as a result of this situation.

“During these incursions into our systems, there is a risk that hackers have been able to acquire a significant quantity of data.

“Work is continuing together with cyber security agencies to investigate what data may have been accessed, but we have reason to believe that this could include patient-identifiable and staff-identifiable data.

“Breach of confidential data is an incredibly serious matter. We are encouraging everyone, staff and public, to be on their guard for any attempt to access their systems or approaches from anyone claiming to be in possession of data relating to them.”

Police Scotland confirmed the attack had taken place.

Health Secretary Neil Gray said: “I am aware that NHS Dumfries and Galloway has been affected by an ongoing cyber-attack.

"Scottish Government officials have been in close contact with the board, Police Scotland, and other partners including the National Crime Agency and NHS National Services Scotland (NSS).

“There are well established procedures for dealing with a situation of this kind. We are providing assistance and support to NHS Dumfries and Galloway as they handle this incident, and NHS NSS is engaging with the rest of NHS Scotland and providing updates as necessary.”

A spokesperson for the National Cyber Security Centre said: “We are working with law enforcement, NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government to fully understand the impact of an incident.”