'Significant' ransomware attack impacting Cork hospitals

'Significant' ransomware attack impacting Cork hospitals

The HSE said it had shut down all of its IT systems following what it described as a “significant ransomware attack” on the HSE IT systems.

A “significant” ransomware attack is impacting hospitals across Cork.

This morning the HSE said it had shut down all of its IT systems following what it described as a “significant ransomware attack” on the HSE IT systems.

HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid said it is working to contain the very "sophisticated" human-operated ransomware attack on its IT systems.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said that the cyber attack is impacting all national and local systems involved in all core services.

Mr Reid said that the HSE has taken all precautionary measures to shut down systems to protect them.

He said that more will be known later this morning on the full impacts but in the meantime, he has advised people to attend for appointments unless they hear otherwise. 

Impact at CUH 

Cork University Hospital said it is affected by the national IT outage, however, some systems can work in a limited capacity by not connecting to the network.

It said that this limits the capability of the services which the hospital can provide today.

CUH has advised the public of the following:

  • If you have an OPD appointment, chemotherapy appointment, surgery appointment, come to the hospital unless you are contacted to cancel 
  • You may expect normal systems to be limited, therefore CUH may not have access to the full suite of records 
  • Labs are severely affected
  • Existing GP bloods will not be processed at this time
  • Only emergency bloods will be processed 
  • Patients with X-ray appointments today should not attend unless contacted
  • Radiotherapy appointments are also cancelled for today
  • Finally, management at CUH wishes to remind the public that people should only attend the ED in emergency situations and that delays are likely as a result of the current IT situation.

The hospital will advise if there is any change to the current status.

Appointments at CUMH impacted 

The Ireland South Women and Infants Health Directorate is advising that outpatient maternity clinics at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) are taking place as usual, however outpatient gynaecology clinics have now been cancelled.

All telephone clinics are also cancelled due to the serious HSE IT issue, it said.

Impacts at Mercy University Hospital and SIVUH

The Mercy University Hospital is continuing to operate appointments today but says there will be some impacts to services. 

In a statement, a spokesperson for the hospital said: "There is a significant ransom-ware attack on the HSE ICT Systems. This has also affected the systems in the Mercy University Hospital. We are taking the precaution of shutting down all of our ICT Systems in order to protect them from this attack. We are working with the HSE and their security partners to fully assess the situation. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to patients. The hospital is trying to minimise service disruption. Emergency services are operational however delays should be expected. We will continue to update you as the situation progresses and thank you for your cooperation."

Any updates will be issued on the hospital's website

The South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital (SIVUH) also asked patients to attend for appointments unless they were contacted. 

"Due to an IT attack we have shut down some of our IT systems. We are continuing with services which can be provided in a safe manner. Please attend for your appointment unless we make contact with you to cancel it. We apologise for any inconvenience caused," the hospital said. 

Cancer care impacts

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland this morning, Professor Seamus O'Reilly, Medical Oncologist at Cork University Hospital said the attack would have patient impacts.

“Our main concern is about patient safety,” he said.

“On the ward this morning, I’m concerned about results that might be outstanding, laboratory data that needs to be available to manage patients today. That would be our main focus for the rest of the day.

“It is very distressing for patients to be honest with you. There might be a result that needs clarification, or test results they are waiting for. “

When asked if clinics may be postponed, he said this would probably be taken on a case by case basis.

“We are anxious that if we can go ahead with treatment in a safe way we will,” he said.

Covid vaccine and test appointments

The HSE is advising that Covid vaccine appointments are still going ahead as planned today.

It said that scheduled Covid-19 tests will also go ahead as planned. 

The HSE has advised that the GP and close contacting testing referrals system is down. 

Instead, the HSE has said that static Covid-19 test centres will be opened up nationally for walk-in testing.

In Cork, the Dunmanway and Blackpool centres are accepting walk-ins this afternoon.

People who have symptoms of Covid-19 are who are close contacts will be prioritised for testing.

The HSE has stressed that it is important that anyone who is a close contact or with symptoms continues to self-isolate/restrict movements as required.

The HSE said people attending for tests will need to bring a photo ID and provide a mobile phone number.

Scheduled appointments are going ahead as normal.

The HSE said that people who had a recent Covid-19 test appointment and are awaiting their results will still have their tests processed in its laboratories.

However, there may be some delay in receiving test results.

Ambulance service 

The National Ambulance Service are operating as per normal with no impact on emergency ambulance call handling and dispatch nationally.

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