Hospitals in Munster are facing a double blow as the cyberattack continues to paralyse IT systems while attendance at emergency departments has increased.
As the Irish Examiner reports, there were 248 patients at the Emergency Department in University Hospital Limerick (UHL) yesterday while Cork University Hospital (CUH) was also facing an unusually high number of patients, according to the HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor.
Data collected by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation showed UHL had the highest number of admitted patients waiting for a bed yesterday, at 45. This was followed by CUH at 14 and the Mercy University Hospital in Cork at 13.
Emergency department consultant at University Hospital Limerick Dr Gareth Quin said his job has changed beyond recognition.
“When a patient attends the emergency department, the first step is registration. That is a handwritten process now. Our triage is IT-based and we are gone back to paper now," he told TippFM radio.
Clinics and in-patient care continue to be cancelled around the country.
The HSE has 2,000 patient-facing systems and 80,000 devices which must all be checked before systems can go online again.
Ms O’Connor said comparing this week to the same week in 2019 showed a reduction of 70 per cent to 80 per cent in outpatient activity, a 50 per cent drop for in-patient activity and half the amount of chemotherapy given.
Radiotherapy is halted on three sites, including at CUH.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid described the “catastrophic” impact of the “stomach-churning” cyberattack.
“I really do believe this is quite a stomach-churning criminal act," Mr Reid said.
“To launch an attack of such a massive scale on sick and vulnerable people in this country in the midst of a global pandemic is quite an extraordinary thing to do.
“There is no doubt it is a vicious and a callous act and will be condemned everywhere by decent people.
“It is also specifically an attack on healthcare workers having worked relentlessly for 15 months, making many personal sacrifices and taking many personal risks and providing care for people most impacted by Covid-19 ... coming after three of the most challenging months in the history of the health system in Ireland."
He told a HSE media briefing that the response has been comprehensive since last Friday and will continue to be relentless.
However, he said work to undo the damage will continue into the coming weeks. “This is, in essence, the rebuilding of a legacy network of 30 years,” he said