HSE systems still extensively impacted after ‘complete wipeout’

Medical card applications among areas affected in aftermath of cyberattack

HSE chief executive Paul Reid pictured at Thursday’s  weekly operational update on the response to Covid-19. Photograph: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

HSE chief executive Paul Reid pictured at Thursday’s weekly operational update on the response to Covid-19. Photograph: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

 

Patients applying for medical cards are experiencing delays because the HSE is unable to process online applications following last month’s cyberattack.

Officials say they are receiving “a lot of queries” about medical cards, and have urged people to submit applications in the post. However, the normal 15-day turnaround is unlikely to be met.

Further progress has been made in restoring IT systems that were the subject of a cyberattack almost four weeks ago, Mr Reid said.

The attack had had a devastating impact on the health service, completely disarming many medical and clinical teams.

It resulted in a “complete wipeout” of 2,000 systems across the HSE, all of which had had to be rebuilt and “coordinated” in a safe manner, he said.

While systems have been restored in some hospitals, no hospital yet has fully integrated services or connectivity with other hospitals.

Some 96 per cent of 5,000 servers, and 50 per cent of end-user devices, have been screened.

The environment remains one of extreme and high risk, he said, and there is still a risk of further stolen patient information being published online.

The HSE is doing everything in its power to mitigate the risks involved and has an “unrelenting resolve” to restore services, Mr Reid said. “We’ll get out of this at some stage.”

Patient administration systems at four hospital sites remain severely impacted and diagnostic imaging systems at seven sites, according to Anne O’Connor, the HSE’s chief operating officer.

Endoscopy services remain severely impacted at 32 sites, she said. Email remains “patchy” and just 25 per cent of devices have been decrypted.