Thursday, June 10, 2021

Digital Desk Staff

Hospitals in Cork and Limerick continue to be seriously affected by the cyberattack on the HSE online systems, with staff working through the night to transfer data from paper charts.

As the Irish Examiner reports, it is now 29 days since the cyberattack disabled vital services including access to scans and laboratory work.

Anne O’Connor, HSE chief operations officer, said progress is being made, but overall the picture remains bleak.

Laboratory systems at Cork University Hospital are working at 50 per cent of capacity, and GPs cannot access the systems for tests.  Ms O’Connor described it as “a challenging environment”.

Radiotherapy treatment for cancer continues to be done at the private Bon Secours cancer centre.

In University Hospital Limerick, time-critical elective procedures are slowly resuming, but other services remain impacted.

Email access remains low across the hospital group in the mid-west, although Ms O’Connor said the smaller hospitals are “doing better.”

A key issue for all hospitals is finding time to re-enter the data from the last month into the IT systems.

Limerick hospital started on this last week and estimates it will take until June 18th to complete with only about 50 per cent done, she said.

Working overtime

Ms O’Connor said staff are coming in at weekends and working through the night on overtime to move sensitive data from paper charts back into the hospital system.

“Validation of people is really slowing us down,” she said, as staff try to avoid confusing patients with the same surnames on paper charts.

Both hospitals also continue to see unusually high numbers of people coming to the emergency departments but, in both cases, the numbers admitted to the hospital remain low.

Ms O’Connor said there were 231 people at the CUH emergency department and 271 in Limerick over 24 hours across Wednesday and Thursday.

Both hospitals, fortunately, are seeing a reduced level of Covid-infections which is easing the pressures, she said.

There were three Covid-patients in CUH yesterday and four in Limerick hospital.

Ms O’Connor said, nationally, huge challenges remain in the wake of the cyberattack.

“The overarching risk is accumulating despite IT recovery,” she said.  Risks include the chance of error in data entry, reduced access to services, and delays in getting tests or test results.

Just 28 of the hospital laboratories are functioning, with 12 still without access.

Endoscopy services are only restored on six sites, 13 have limited access but 20 have no access yet.

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