‘Substantial number’ of people to be contacted by HSE about data compromised in cyberattack

Public Accounts Committee hears most Covid-19 pandemic bonuses will be paid by end of year

A “substantial number of people” are due to be contacted about how their data may have been compromised during the 2021 HSE cyberattack, the Public Accounts Committee has heard.

Stephen Mulvany, chief executive of the HSE, said he did not believe anyone affected had been contacted yet, but expected they would be “in the coming months”.

“As I understand it, there is a significant volume of work which is progressing so we can get to the point where we can appropriately communicate with those individuals who do need to be communicated with, and we are very anxious to do so in a way that does not cause unnecessary upset,” he said.

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Mr Mulvany said the HSE was also engaged with the Data Protection Commission and that he was conscious the process was taking “longer than people might expect, however, the volume and complexity of what we’re dealing with is very, very substantial”.

HSE chief operations officer Damien McCallion said a team had been stood up who would be making contact with those affected and they were currently “scoping out” these individuals.

“I don’t want to throw out a number that isn’t correct to here today, we’re trying to finalise that, but it’s a substantial number of people that will need to be contacted,” he said.

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy asked whether tens of thousands of people could be affected but Mr McCallion said he “didn’t want to speculate the numbers”.

Mr Mulvany also committed to ensuring that most Covid-19 pandemic bonuses would be paid to section 38 and 39 workers, including Dublin Fire Brigade workers, by the end of the year.

“We understand that our colleagues and section 39s need to get this recognition, we absolutely do. It’s simply a question of the practicalities of it and making those payments,” he said.

Ambulance staff

The committee was also told that about 3,018 new staff will be needed by the National Ambulance Service (NAS) by 2028 to meet future demand.

Robert Morton, director of the National Ambulance Service, said there were 577 vehicles under the auspice of the NAS, which included 340 emergency ambulances.

He said of those 340 ambulances, no more than between 180 and 190 were in use at any given time in order to ensure vehicles were available for ongoing crew.

Mr Morton said the average age of the fleet was three years, which compared “very favourably” to 2011 when it was 11 years.

He said the NAS was due to spend €20 million this year on fleet and equipment.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times