Patients miss cancer treatment due to health service hack

Patients miss cancer treatment due to health service hack

Many patients, including some recieving cancer treatment, have had their appointments cancelled as Ireland's health services suffered widespread disruption due to the ransomware attack on the HSE. 

Widespread disruption continues across the health services following a cyberattack yesterday — and the HSE expects this to last “a number of days”.

Thousands of patients missed out on appointments yesterday as hospitals closed some non-urgent care services. Staff were unable to access test results and patient records, and could not send emails.

The disruption looks set to continue, as chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry told RTÉ:

It is going to take a number of days to get to the bottom of this. 

In West Cork, Brid O’Neill’s 76-year-old mother was disappointed to have pain therapy treatment cancelled. She said: “My mother was looking forward to this all week, she’s in pain. They didn’t say anything about rescheduling, they were so busy.” 

Routine appointments across St Luke's Radiation Oncology Network in Dublin were cancelled. Eimear Cregg (38) missed radiation treatment for breast cancer. “It was hard to hear," she said: "Things are hard enough without another curveball. 

If it was your chemotherapy being cancelled, that would be worse, but it was really upsetting.  

Like others in this position, Ms Cregg does not know when her appointment can be rescheduled.

“You want to have some control so something like this is really upsetting,” she said.

Missed treatments

Rachel Hanratty’s father also missed similar treatment. She said: “I’m so annoyed. Dad’s radiation has been cancelled due to the HSE PiMS being hacked.” 

And one woman, who didn’t wish to be named, said her 92-year-old father could not be discharged from a Midlands hospital as X-rays were not available.

South Tipperary General Hospital has cancelled Monday’s outpatient appointments except those for pregnant women. Hospitals in the Ireland East group have cancelled some of Monday's outpatient appointments and others "until further notice". University Hospital Limerick warned of continued delays saying they are mainly using “manual backup systems.”

Cancelled appointments

The email system connecting GPs with pharmacies to share prescriptions “is still functioning” the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) said. This was taken offline temporarily. But the online ordering system for high-tech medication was unavailable. 

The IPU advised pharmacies to order by telephone only “for immediate patient need". 

Emergency care is still available, and the ambulance service is not affected. GP out-of-hours services also continue.

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