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People urged to avoid Cork University Hospital ED as HSE cyber attack impact causing 'extreme delays'

Dr Conor Deasy said the HSE ransomware attack had a major impact on frontline care delivery at the hospital.

Image: Shutterstock/D. Ribeiro

PEOPLE ARE BEING asked to stay away from the Emergency Department at Cork University Hospital (CUH) unless their visit is absolutely necessary due to “extreme delays”. 

Emergency Medical Consultant at CUH Dr Conor Deasy told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland the HSE ransomware attack had a major impact on frontline care delivery at the hospital. 

“It’s been an extremely difficult three weeks for patients attending the hospital and all our staff,” Dr Deasy said. 

He said patients may not be aware that staff have been “reduced to using manual, handwritten systems for registering them, ordering their blood tests and their radiology … the list goes on”.

“The impact that has on our ability to provide safe care, in any sort of a timely way is really compromised,” Dr Deasy said. 

“We have to continue delivering emergency services, so our appeal is that we retain the Emergency Department for emergencies at this time.” 

People who may need non-emergency medical attention over the bank holiday weekend are being asked to contact GPs, out-of-hours services, local injury units or local pharmacies. 

Dr Deasy said the ransomware attack “came at a very bad time” as CUH’s Emergency Department figures were up 30% on pre-pandemic attendances. 

He said the increase in attendances is partly because of people being concerned they may have Covid-19 and people being concerned over possible side effects of the vaccinations. He added people also may be attending because they are having trouble accessing their GPs who may be busy with Covid-19 patients and vaccinations. 

“There is no question that people having received the vaccinations, because of some of the negative publicity associated with the vaccinations, are hyper aware and concerned of any symptoms they may experience,” Dr Deasy said. 

“The message is that these vaccinations are safe. I have yet to see any patient being diagnosed with anything that required them to be admitted to the hospital as a consequence of their vaccine since the rollout started,” he said. 

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Mercy University Hospital Cork has also said it is experiencing long delays at its emergency department today due to the impacts of the cyber attack and high presentation levels to the ED. 

“Due to the surge in activity at the ED the hospital would suggest that members of the public needing less urgent treatment, avail where possible, of other care services,” the hospital said in a statement.

“Patients with less urgent complaints are advised to contact their GPs or SouthDoc, in the first instance, or avail of services at the Mercy Local Injury Unit Saint Mary’s Health Campus and other urgent care units the city.”

It said the department remains open 24/7 but that patients “will experience delays”. 

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