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100 million euro would be ‘small figure’ in cost of HSE cyber attack – Reid

Up to 7,000 outpatient appointments a day are being lost as a result of the attack, a HSE briefing heard on Thursday.

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Handout photo of Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) chief Paul Reid during his briefing at University College Dublin where he systems which had been established for three to six months would now be needed for a much longer period, perhaps into next year (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Handout photo of Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) chief Paul Reid during his briefing at University College Dublin where he systems which had been established for three to six months would now be needed for a much longer period, perhaps into next year (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

Handout photo of Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) chief Paul Reid during his briefing at University College Dublin where he systems which had been established for three to six months would now be needed for a much longer period, perhaps into next year (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

The HSE has said that 100 million euro would be a “small figure” in terms of the total cost of the cyberattack.

Up to 7,000 outpatient appointments a day are being lost as a result of the attack by a criminal gang that has played havoc with the health service, a briefing heard on Thursday.

Chief executive Paul Reid has said he would back an independent investigation into the incident.

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Reid said 100 million euro would be “a small enough figure” when it comes to the total cost of dealing with the attack.

He said: “There’s a number of costs that we will incur by purely getting the systems back up, and secondly, upgrading some systems during this process.

“There’s a resource cost with all of that.

“Then there will be the costs bases on out services and the impact on trying to recover services.

“I said at the outset this will be in the tens of millions.

“And there’s no doubt that 100 million would be a small enough figure in terms of the total costs of this.”

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The ransomware attack resulted in the HSE having to close down all its IT services, causing widespread delays and the cancellation of appointments at hospitals across the country.

HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor said that outpatient services are currently operating at around 50% capacity, meaning around 7,000 appointments a day are being lost.

But she said this is only one area affected, and it will be some time before the impact across all patient groups is clear.

Mr Reid warned that disruption will continue for “some time to come”.

He said: “The risks to our health service right now are carried across all aspects of healthcare.

“Therefore, in any analysis or any judgment of what the risks are in the health system right now,  they’re extremely red hot.

“We are truly sorry for patients who are suffering this impact and the impact it’s having on those patients.”

He added: “I just want to say to all of those people and patients we are doing the very best we can to mitigate and minimise the disruption.

“But the reality is, there will be disruption for some time to come just yet.”

Mr Reid also said he would back an independent investigation into the cyberattack, saying lessons must be learned from it.

“We are keen to have an independent and objective and assessment of the incident,” he said.

“At a second level, there is a real need across the public service and across Government services, to have a learning from this event and to assess our national protections across it as well.

“I certainly am very open to an independent assessment, that’s what our board are currently finalising.”


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