DUBLIN — A cyberattack on Ireland’s Health Service Executive is “having a severe impact on our health and social care services today,” according to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, with hospitals across the country battling disruptions.
The University of Limerick Hospitals Group warned of “long delays” at its six facilities, while the Ireland East group said staff at its 11 hospitals were asking for “the public’s patience at this time.”
Although emergency departments remain open, “delays should be expected while hospitals move to manual, offline processes,” the HSE said later on Friday.
The National Maternity Hospital said “a major IT issue” would mean “significant disruption,” while Fergal Malone, master of the Rotunda Hospital, said the attack forced staff to “revert back to old-fashioned based record-keeping.”
The HSE said early on Friday that it was forced to shut down information technology systems after being hit with “a significant ransomware attack.”
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the shutdown was necessary to protect patient data.
Ossian Smyth, a junior minister with responsibility for public procurement, later told public broadcaster RTÉ that the hack “was not espionage” but the work of “a criminal gang.”
“What they’re attempting to do is to encrypt and lock away our data, and then to try to ransom it back to us for money,” said Smyth, who described the intrusion as “possibly the most significant cybercrime attack on the Irish state.”
While the HSE said coronavirus vaccinations scheduled for Friday would proceed and ambulance services “are operating as per normal,” the virus testing referral system is down.
“GPs [general practitioners] can advise people to attend any walk-in centres,” the HSE said.Show