HSE cyberattack causing issues with school transport applications, Bus Éireann says

Work under way to resolve delays in medical card verification for free travel

Parents and guardians are asked not to forward copies of their family medical cards as supporting documentation for means-tested free transport. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Parents and guardians are asked not to forward copies of their family medical cards as supporting documentation for means-tested free transport. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Some 27,000 children who use medical card verification to avail of free school transport have been told applications can not be processed because of ongoing difficulties with Health Service Executive (HSE) computers.

Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport scheme on behalf of the Department of Education, has written to parents asking them not to forward copies of their family medical cards as supporting documentation for means-tested free transport.

Bus Éireann has also written to public representatives who have made enquiries about the progress of the free transport scheme for this coming academic year.

The company said the recent cybersecurity attack on the HSE systems had resulted in the medical card verification system used for school transport services being unavailable.

Bus Éireann said it was working with the HSE to have the system operational before the July 30th deadline for applications. In the meantime, it asked parents and guardians not to include children’s medical cards or photocopies in applications, and not to attempt to make payment through the company’s online portal for those children that do not have access to a medical card.

A spokeswoman for Bus Éireann said if an extension of time was needed for applications it would be put in place.

In a statement the company said it was “working urgently with the HSE to find a solution to this issue.

“Approximately 27,000 of the 120,000 students using school transport annually travel on medical card-linked tickets.

“Bus Éireann has contacted existing medical card holders availing of school transport directly advising them of this issue. Advice and regular updates are also being provided on www.buseireann.ie/schooltransport.”

Fianna Fáil parliamentary party chairman and Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith, who published on social media a copy of Bus Éireann’s letter to parents and guardians, said he believed the company was acting responsibly.

“I think they are doing the right thing alerting parents to the issue and I got a copy as someone who had made representations to Bus Éireann in the past.”

He said he was aware that efforts were being made to rectify the issue as soon as possible.