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Dublin: 18°C Friday 12 August 2022

HSE says staff will be paid this week but there may be issues with amounts

Sources indicated there could be problems calculating allowances and overtime, rather than with the payment of basic pay.

HSE CEO Paul Reid
HSE CEO Paul Reid
Image: Leon Farrell

THE HEALTH SERVICE Executive has said all staff will be paid this week despite the ongoing impact of the ransomware attack last week on its computer systems. 

However it suggested that “some issues” could arise in relation to the amounts staff receive, though any issues will be “rectified in the coming weeks”, said a HSE spokesperson. 

Sources indicated there could be problems calculating allowances and overtime, rather than with the payment of basic pay.

Earlier, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed that the HSE payment system is down as a result of the attack.

He said getting it back up and running to ensure HSE staff are paid is now “an absolute priority”.

He also confirmed that some of the 146,000 people working in the HSE are due to be paid on Thursday.

HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry has said that contingency plans are in place for staff to be paid this week, but that the priority is getting key diagnostic services up and running again.

All of the HSE’s computer systems had to be closed down because of the ransomware attack, he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. 

It was hoped that a contingency plan would be in place by Thursday of this week so that staff could be paid, but there was no guarantee that the contingency plan would be in place by then. 

Dr Henry said it was hoped that the diagnostic information systems that were key could be restored quickly. The focus would be on those services this week.

“This cyberattack has had a profound impact on the HSE,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Minister for Transport and Communications Eamon Ryan has said that a news report of HSE patient data being leaked online is “credible”. 

Today, the Financial Times reported it had seen screenshots and files proving that medical and personal information belonging to HSE patients had been shared online – in what it called the first confirmation of a data leak since the HSE ransomware attack.

The paper reported that as well as patient data, health service files and equipment purchase details had also been taken, and a ransom of $20 million had been sought.

When asked about the report on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Eamon Ryan said that he has seen the Financial Times article, and that it “seems credible”.

“We expected this sort of thing to happen, these sort of sites to be used and this information to be shared, that is very standard for what these criminal gangs do.

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“It is, it is deeply regrettable,” he said, but added that the focus is on returning healthcare services to full operation.

As a result of the attack CervicalCheck smear appointments booked for this week have been postponed until next week or beyond that, as part of the HSE’s response.

As a precaution, all computer systems were shut down and a cyber security team is now clearing through 2,000 systems linked to the HSE one by one.

Yesterday, CervicalCheck told GPs to reschedule appointments booked for this week until next week, as a precaution while a GP system is checked. It emphasised that GPs should stress to women that it is safe to wait a few weeks for a cervical smear appointment.

It’s not expected that the request to postpone appointments will stretch further than this week, as the precaution is being taken in relation to the IT system used by GPs.

With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha

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