Cyber attack on HSE puts patients at risk as treatment disrupted for thousands of patients across the country

The HSE became aware of a significant ransomware attack on some of its systems overnight. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was informed of the issue and immediately activated its crisis response plan.The NCSC is also engaging with EU and other international partners to share information on this incident and to ensure that the HSE has immediate access to international cyber supports. 

Thousands of patients across the country, many ill with cancer and heart disease, risk having their life-saving treatment disrupted for days as the health service is crippled by an aggressive cyber attack.It is feared it will be well into next week before the HSE is able to restore services after the cybercrime break-in.

The HSE confirmed that a Bitcoin ransom had been demanded by criminals of paralysed HSE computers but insisted it would not be paid.Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it had been made “very clear” that no ransom will be paid.

Around 16,500 hospital patients a day will be affected.Yesterday many patients needing radiotherapy and chemotherapy for cancer treatment had their appointments cancelled.One of the most severely hit areas are diagnostic scans including X-rays, which will delay diagnosis.

The HSE said it hoped to meet as many appointments as possible but delays should be expected while hospitals move to manual or offline processes.

People are urged to attend A&E only in emergencies but they are open to patients.Referring to people with possible Covid-19 the HSE said that GPs cannot electronically refer them to a testing centre.However , it said: “If you have Covid-19 you should still phone your GP. They may advise you to go to a Covid-19 walk-in centre.

Public Health advice for now:

Vaccinations are not affected and are going ahead as planned.

Hospitals & Appointments:

  • Most hospital appointments are still going ahead as planned. But delays should be expected while hospitals move to manual, offline processes.
  • Emergency departments are still open for all medical emergencies.
  • The national ambulance service continues to take calls and operate as normal.
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