The Health Service Executive in Ireland has temporarily shut down its IT system after it suffered a “significant ransomware attack”. The health body stated that it had shut down its systems as a precaution to further protect them, and to let them assess the situation.
The HSE provides public health and social care services to everyone living in Ireland. The issue caused Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital to cancel most outpatients visits today. The maternity hospital had all the outpatient visits cancelled – unless expectant mothers are at 36 weeks pregnant or later.
All gynecology clinics are also cancelled today. However, those with any urgent concerns are allowed to attend as normal.
The HSE has apologized to patients and the public and they confirmed that Covid-19 vaccinations are going ahead as normal.
Rotunda Hospital master, Prof Fergal Malone spoke on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, that they discovered the ransomware attack during the night that has affected all of the hospital’s electronic systems and records.
He believed that it has also affected other hospitals.
They use a common system throughout the HSE in terms of registering patients and it appears to be the entry point or source. That is the reason why they had to shut down all their computer systems.
All patients are safe and the hospital had contingency plans in order to function normally using a paper-based system.
But this would slow down the processing of patients, and is why they are limiting the numbers attending appointments today.
Prof Malone also said that lifesaving equipment is all operating fine and it is just the computers with healthcare records that have been affected by the attack.
However, it is not known now how long it will take to rectify the issue. A team has been formed to look into the issue and resolve it.