May 23, 2021
Full disclosure and a robust public awareness campaign needed by the HSE – David Cullinane TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called for an all-hands-on-deck approach by the HSE to deal with the threat and chaos caused by the cyber attack.

Speaking today, Teachta Cullinane said:

“This cyber attack is the most serious cyber security incident in the history of the state. It is having a devastating impact on Health Care services, and is causing huge strain for those working in our health care system. 

“The wide scale disruption to health services is likely to last weeks and will cause chaos in hospitals for patients and staff alike. Everything possible needs to be done to recover and rebuild the systems and restore health care services as quickly as is possible. 

“This attack could not come at a worst time, with nearly 900,000 patients on some form of health waiting list and after a year of scaled down services due to Covid. Our Health Care system is playing catch up due to the pandemic and has now been brought to its knees due to a cyber attack.

“Hospital staff are reporting using 1970’s methodology in the absence of fully functioning IT systems. Markers, whiteboards, pens and paper are substitutes for sophisticated equipment. This increases risk and reduces quality, and is causing huge stress for those on the front line. 

“Those working in our health care systems need urgent support. Leveraging use of the private sector is necessary at this time as the impact of this cyber attack is likely to last weeks if not months. Patient safety and safeguarding those who work in health care must come first. 

“Patients are also bracing themselves for the possibility of the dumping of very sensitive patient and HSE staff data. The Government and the HSE need to ensure that there is a robust public awareness campaign in place and full open disclosure and notification to all patients whose sensitive data may have been compromised. 

“There is every likelihood that these criminal gangs will attempt to sell this data and it is vital that the public are fully informed as to what to do if contacted by these gangs. The public should not engage directly and the HSE must put in place all appropriate supports. 

“This attack is an expensive lesson and valuable wake up call that we need to do more to protect the state against cyber attacks and invest in an ambitious IT modernisation programme within the HSE.

 “The days of the use outdated and antiquated equipment must come to and end. In the short term, the priority must be to rebuild the IT systems and restore health care systems currently suspended, or at significantly reduced capacity.”

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