Reports of HSE patient data leaked online; Cancer patients told 'not to panic' about referrals

Reports of HSE patient data leaked online; Cancer patients told 'not to panic' about referrals

Medical and personal information about patients stolen by hackers last week has been shared online, according to reports. File image.

Medical and personal information about patients stolen by hackers last week has been shared online, according to reports.

Screenshots and files shared online following the ransomware attack on the HSE’s IT systems last week have reportedly been seen by the Financial Times.

Hackers, believed to be from Russia, targetted the HSE last week with ransomware, causing a complete shutdown of their systems, causing delays in patient care this week.

The HSE has since been trying to establish how many patients’ data was compromised by the attack.

The files shared online are the first confirmation that patients’ personal data has been leaked as a result of the attack in which the hackers are demanding $20m in ransom.

Delay in accessing GP referrals for cancer services

Speaking about the delay experienced by some hospitals in accessing GP referrals for cancer services due to the ransomware attack, Dr John Sheehan of Blackpool Bridge Surgery said that people should not panic.

Dr John Sheehan said that although the cyberattack has caused delays in accessing electronic GP referrals for cancer services that it is not a cause for people to panic. Picture Dan Linehan
Dr John Sheehan said that although the cyberattack has caused delays in accessing electronic GP referrals for cancer services that it is not a cause for people to panic. Picture Dan Linehan

He said that although the attack on the HSE has caused delays in accessing GP referrals electronically, urgent referrals are still being faxed through to hospitals and that patients who are deemed urgent cases “have no reason to panic”.

He also said that those patients who are not considered to be urgent cases will continue to be referred to the hospital as normal “when systems are back up and running hopefully over the next few days”.

There is no need for people to panic because we still have the ability to fax through referrals, we’re not reliant on an electronic system for those referrals.

Dr Sheehan said, however, that the wider concern amongst GPs is that services that have already been affected by Covid-19 could now be further affected by the cyberattack, causing delays for patients.

Appointments for vaccinations not affected

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) said that appointments for vaccinations “have thankfully not been affected” by the ransomware attack.

“All public vaccination centres in Cork have been running very efficiently and we thank the public for supporting us by arriving on time for appointments,” the spokesperson said.

Anyone who cannot attend their appointment for any reason is asked to reschedule by replying the word ‘New’ to their appointment text or by calling 1850 24 1850 for assistance.

The spokesperson said that this will allow appointment times to be filled and to maximise capacity at the centres.

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