One month on from the cyber attack on HSE IT systems, the CEO of the Saolta Hospital Group has warned that patient services continue to feel the impact in Letterkenny, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Portiuncula and Galway University Hospitals.
Tony Canavan, Saolta CEO highlighted the ongoing impact with limited outpatient and elective activity and long delays in Emergency Departments four weeks after the ransomware attack.
“It's four weeks since the cyber attack shut down our IT systems across the whole of the HSE. It had a really significant impact on patient care across the hospital group and resulted in the widespread cancellation of outpatient appointments, elective procedures and endoscopy appointments. We made some progress in the first week to ten days in returning some of our key clinical systems back to some limited functionality but we are still experiencing considerable difficulties as a result of that attack.
“What we're finding is that most of our IT systems are not communicating with each other, they're not talking to each other and they're not sharing information with each other and that has a direct impact on our ability to deliver patient care,” he said.
The Emergency Departments in particular are continuing to face significant delays, and patients attending at EDs are being urged to consider other options in the first instance.
“We're also asking patients that if you're using our emergency departments in particular to give some consideration as to whether that's the most appropriate place for you to go. If you have a genuine emergency, come to our emergency departments in our hospitals and you will be cared for. However, if it's possible that you could receive appropriate care in some other setting - perhaps it's your GP or pharmacist - you should give that some consideration as well. All of our emergency departments are experiencing significant delays so if you're coming in be prepared for that as well.”
Outpatient appointments and elective activity also remain limited as core systems continue to face issues.
The Saolta Hospital Group CEO also paid tribute to the ongoing efforts of staff, who have worked around the clock to return services and provide care to patients.
“I'm conscious that again our staff have had to adapt the way that they work in order to deal with this critical issue. And our staff have been excellent in finding workarounds and ways of ensuring that we continue to provide excellent patient care. I want to thank staff for their efforts in making that happen and I'm really conscious that you're doing that in the context of a very, very difficult year as well. So thank you,” he added.