Update on HSE Cyber Security Incident – Cork Safety Alerts – Cork Safety Alerts


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Recently a news publication wrote a story saying they had seen HSE data that had been illegally accessed. We informed the publication of the court order we obtained in relation to this matter last week and asked them to supply it to us, and they agreed. 

We have examined it and can confirm it is HSE data relating to approx 520 patients, as well as some corporate documents. The data includes sensitive patient data, minutes of meetings and correspondence with patients. 

The HSE’s Data Protection Office has followed the appropriate procedures, including notifying the relevant health service providers and the Data Protection Commission.

The process of notifying the patients involved has commenced. This will involve some further analysis of the data, and we will do this as quickly as possible.

This data was the initial small tranche of data that was previously reported on, and we are not aware of any further attempted publication of our data. We apologise for the inconvenience caused to our patients and service users. The HSE is working with An Garda Síochána on this criminal investigation.  

Progress continues to be made in some hospitals on restoring IT systems and some sites (at a local site level only) now have access to radiology, laboratories and their patient administration systems. But this is uneven across the country and levels of disruption this week are expected to be similar to those of last week. 

Services around the country are continuing to see substantial disruption. We are urging people to check the HSE website service updates page before attending appointments. The information here is being updated on a regular basis. Some services, especially community services, and some primary care centres, are experiencing issues with phone lines.  

Steady progress is being made but this restoration work has to be done in a very safe way and we anticipate it will take a number of weeks. 

Emergency Departments remain very busy with high numbers of patient attendances. As always patients needing urgent care will be prioritised.

We ask the public again this week to consider all care options including Injury Units, GP Out of Hours and your local pharmacy in advance of attending Emergency Departments.

The HSE is seriously concerned about risks to patients arising from the absence of many services in the health services.  While progress is being made on the IT front, it will be some time before this translates into a restoration of services in very many cases.

Meanwhile, people receiving any suspicious calls, texts or other contacts seeking personal or banking details are advised to report these contacts to their local Garda station.

The HSE has informed digital platforms of the High Court order it secured on 20/5/21 preventing any individual or business from sharing, processing, or selling any information secured as a result of the cyber-attack. 

We are collaborating and working closely with the social media platforms and our focus is on doing everything we can to prevent stolen data being published.  

A structured and controlled deployment of the new decryption tool continues to take place across the core network and its end point devices. This work, which started on Saturday 22/5/21, continues this week. 

Reports from some parts of the country of a rise in Covid 19 cases are concerning and we  urge people to continue taking sensible precautions and abiding by social distancing guidelines.

We would like to remind people that the Covid-19 Test and Trace systems remains operational without the GP referral system for testing. People with symptoms or close contacts may attend test centres without an appointment. All static testing centres are currently operating as walk-in test centres. Full details of walk-in testing centres available at hse.ie   

Health Services update: 

  • Services around the country are continuing to see substantial disruption. People can check updates on services that are affected on the HSE website service updates page. Some services, especially community services, and some primary care centres, are experiencing issues with phone lines. 
  • Hospitals are working to get priority systems back online including radiology and diagnostic systems, maternity and infant care, patient administration systems, chemotherapy and radiation oncology. Essential services, like blood tests and diagnostic services are taking much longer to operate than usual, using manual processes, and increasing turnaround times for patients in our care.
  • Emergency Departments continue to be very busy with high numbers of patient attendances in some hospitals now exceeding 2019 levels. As always patients needing urgent care will be prioritised. However, due to the IT issues and manual work arrangements now in place patients needing non-urgent care will continue to experience long delays. We ask the public this week to continue to consider all care options including Injury Units, GP Out of Hours and your local pharmacy in advance of attending Emergency Departments.
  •  If you are attending an emergency department please bring any information with you that will assist as we are not able to access our patient administration systems. This could be any document or record which includes your Medical Record Number (MRN) or Patient Chart Number (PCN). This information is usually on a sticker on hospital documentation, your current list of medications or prescriptions, or any hospital discharge information from a previous time spent in hospital.
  • The NIMIS platform that delivers digital radiology is now live again in most sites, and progress on this is being made in the remaining hospitals. Radiotherapy are endeavouring to treat all urgent radiation patients where possible by utilising a contingency plan with treatment by less impacted HSE facilities and also the use of private sector facilities.
  • To reassure patients, routine radiation treatments can be temporarily interrupted safely and without negatively impacting their outcome. Patients will be contacted directly by staff about their appointments and any concerns they may have. When services are restored at individual sites it will take a period of time to reschedule appointments and deal with any backlogs that have built up.
  • The cyber-attack has caused a major disruption to our radiotherapy services. For non-emergency radiation treatments, this delay should not have a negative impact on your treatment.  We are treating all urgent radiation patients using private hospitals. Patients are being treated based on their clinical priority.  Radiotherapy treatments have restarted in St. Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network (SLRON) and University Hospital Galway. Cork University Hospital is aiming for restart this week in their public centre and high priority patients are  using local private radiation oncology facilities.  We will be contacting patients directly about their appointments. If you feel unwell or have concerns about your treatment, you can contact your radiotherapy service by phone:  St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network (Beaumont, St. James’s, Rathgar): 01 406 5000   Cork University Hospital: 021 423 4774   University Hospital Galway: 091 542603, 091 542607, 091 542523
  • The National Screening Services has advised that the cyber attack has affected the screening pathways of all of their programmes. This is causing some disruption to services. Bowelscreen and Diabetic Retina Screen are continuing to screen. BreastCheck screening appointments are going ahead within the current Covid 19 restrictions. CervicalCheck screening appointments resumed from Monday, 24 May after a temporary pause. If you have a screening appointment, go to it as planned. You will find more details here.
  • COVID 19 contacts, including school close contacts are now once again receiving a text message with details of  where and when they need to get their COVID 19 test.  It is really important from a public health management perspective, that these people attend for the  test appointment as outlined in the text message rather than attend a walk-in test centre without an appointment
  • The HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer has provided guidance to all clinicians on patient safety and priority focus while our services respond to this attack – see HSE Clinical Guidance here.
  • Hospitals and community services nationwide are seeing varied impacts, but all teams are responding with contingency arrangements, including redeploying staff, rescheduling some procedures and appointments, and adjusting processes as needed.

Information Systems Response:  

  • The encryption tool is being deployed on individual systems when this is safe. 
  • Steady progress is being made on the restoration of some IT systems or parts of the IT system in voluntary hospitals. Some hospital labs and radiology systems have been restored and are operational. A number of sites have partially restored local IT systems within their local sites. However, for other hospitals we are looking at a longer period of restoration. 
  • Our priority remains on bringing back key patient care systems in line with clinical priority. This includes diagnostic imaging, laboratory systems and radiation oncology. 
  • Work is ongoing to find interim solutions and options to continue to treat affected patients on an emergency basis where we anticipate IT systems may be impacted for an extended period.
  • There are approximately 2,000 IT patient facing systems, each supported by infrastructure, multiple servers and devices.  They are still being put through a rigorous process of assessment and recovery in a controlled and structured way.
  • In addition, there are 80,000 HSE devices which are being assessed. The IT system has grown and evolved over 30 years, and we are trying to bring it back online. Different sections will need to be brought back online in a structured, co-ordinated, safe way.  
  • While we believe we will have lost some details of recent clinical activity we anticipate that we will be able to recover older patient records.     

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