Three-quarters of HSE computer servers decrypted, says Paul Reid

Health service has been able to decrypt 75% of its server estate since May 14th incident

HSE chief executive Paul Reid has told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health that 75 per cent of the organisation's computer servers are now decrypted following a recent cyberattack. Video: Oireachtas TV

 

Health Service Executive (HSE) chief executive Paul Reid is expected to tell an Oireachtas committee on Wednesday that the organisation now has 75 per cent of its server estate decrypted with work continuing to restore its full network following the recent cyberattack.

In his opening statement, Mr Reid says 70 per cent of the HSE’s “end-user devices” are now available. The focus has been on those systems “most most critical to patient care in the first instance”.

Mr Reid says “everything possible” is being done to restore the HSE’s systems but it will be “months” before this work is completed.

In the meantime, staff are working “extremely hard to keep services going in the face of the enormous challenges presented by the cyberattack and ensuing shutdown,” he says.

“There is no underestimating the damage this cyberattack has caused,” Mr Reid says. “There will be financial costs certainly, but there will unfortunately be human costs as well.”

‘Patient safety’

An accompanying briefing document to the committee includes a section entitled “quality and patient safety cyberattack update”. It says “the onerous task of uploading backlogs of manual records and reconciling patient records is progressing”.

Evidence of “incidents and near misses” has emerged as HSE staff manually upload patient records due to the impact of the cyberattack on the organisation’s computer systems, it is acknowledged, however.

In the document, which was provided to TDs and Senators ahead of Mr Reid’s appearance before the committee, it is stated that that around 1,400 paper-based incident reports have been made to the State Claims Agency (SCA) “thus far”.

The HSE could not say on Tuesday if there had been a higher number of incidents as a result of the cyberattack, which happened on May 14th last, than in normal times.

‘Incidents and near misses’

However, the briefing document says “the level of stress and risk involved in this process cannot be overstated” and that “as this work progresses evidence of incidents and near misses have emerged”.

“Staff continue to manage these risks to mitigate them where possible, identify, report, and manage incidents and share lessons learned to prevent recurrence.”

Asked about the incidents a HSE spokeswoman said: “Under ordinary circumstances all incidents across the health service are recorded on the National Incident Management Systems (NIMS).

“This system has not been available as a result of the cyber attack, so a manual work around was put in place with the State Claims Agency.

“We cannot say at this time whether there has been a higher number of incidents as a result of the cyberattack.”