Thousands of HSE staff in Cork could be without pay this week following a ransomware attack on the health service’s IT systems.
The HSE's Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry has said that he cannot guarantee that contingency plans to pay thousands of HSE staff will be in place before their payday on Thursday.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland, Dr Henry said that all systems within the HSE were affected by the recent ransomware attack.
We’re hopeful we’ll have contingency plans in place to allow staff to be paid. As with anything else we’re still early in this crisis so we’re prioritising clinical care. As regards pay, we’re developing contingency plans to ensure staff are paid on time.
He said that while he is “not in a position to guarantee that any of those contingency plans will be absolutely in place by Thursday”, that those who are worried can be assured that the HSE is “flat out” in developing backup plans.
Dr Henry said that the ransomware attack has had a “profound impact on the entire HSE” and a profound impact on the ability of clinical teams to deliver care.
He said that so much of modern healthcare is “heavily reliant on information technology systems” for the safe delivery of care, for the reliability of care, and in some cases for diagnostics.
While we’re assuring people that we’re delivering urgent emergency and time-critical care, it’s not in the same way as before.
Dr Henry said that the HSE’s IT experts are working with external agencies and that the priority is to establish “those critical systems on which those critical services depend” such as diagnostics, cancer, and neonatal maternity care.
He said, however, that the delivery of care is much more painstaking and slower and that a much higher degree of care is needed but that clinical teams are working at full capacity.
He said he is hopeful that some systems can be restored in “some limited way” but that undoubtedly, there will be disruption to services which “will mount in the coming days and weeks”.