HSE ‘very nervous’ about restarting record-sharing system between hospitals

The HSE was forced to shut down its IT systems on May 14th following a severe ransomware attack
HSE ‘very nervous’ about restarting record-sharing system between hospitals

The health service remains “very nervous” about switching on its patient information system to allow hospitals to share important records after the crippling cyberattack, a top health official has said.

HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor told The Irish Times that the “big bang” in progress in the post-attack recovery was turning on the information system to allow patient records to be shared.

Progress has been made in restoring the HSE’s system to capture, store and share radiology, cardiology and other diagnostic images within specific hospitals and their laboratories.

By the end of this week, there will be just six of 48 hospitals that have not restored this system.

However, the bigger challenge facing the HSE is opening up firewalls within the IT system to allow information to flow out of hospitals into other hospitals, to GPs or other services.

“In opening up our system, the firewall is the big question. We have a lot of very nervous people about that because as soon as we open that up anything can get in,” said Ms O’Connor.

The HSE was forced to shut down its IT systems on May 14th following a severe ransomware attack that encrypted data stored on the central servers of the national health service.

Ms O’Connor said the HSE was still trying to assess the extent of the damage caused by the attack and may not know the full impact until all IT systems have been switched back on.

'Penny pinching'

Meanwhile, in the Government’s response to the cyberattack, Minister of State for Communications Ossian Smyth said there will be no “penny pinching” when the Government makes renewed efforts to hire a director for the National Cyber Security Centre.

In an appearance at the Oireachtas communications committee on Wednesday, he downplayed a suggestion the salary would have to be as high as €290,000.

The Government had offered a salary of between €106,000 and €127,000 for the job, but a selected individual declined the role for personal reasons.

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