Up to 10,000 scheduled public medical appointments and procedures have been cancelled in the Mid-West following the devastating cyber attack on the HSE’s information technology systems.
The UL Hospitals’ Group has warned widespread service disruption will continue into a fourth week due to the impact of the criminal cyber attack.
In a statement issued to the Clare Champion, the group confirmed it is working hard with local and national teams to restore information technology systems. Systems are being restored based on clinical priority and progress will be gradual.
To date, approximately 10,000 patients have had scheduled appointments or procedures cancelled and outpatient appointments and elective surgeries remain cancelled until further notice.
Record numbers have been attending the Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) this week and less urgent patients are being advised to expect delays and to consider alternative options to access healthcare before attending ED.
Service disruptions continue in University Hospital Limerick, University Maternity Hospital, Limerick, Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, St John’s Hospital and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital.
The group has reiterated all outpatient clinics are cancelled. This includes paediatric outpatient appointments, apart from time-critical patients, who will be called directly by the hospital in advance.
All elective inpatient and day case procedures are cancelled. This is with the exception of time-critical cases and these patients will be called directly in advance.
All diagnostics including x-ray, CT scans, MRI appointments, endoscopy services and cardiac investigations are cancelled.
Maternity services including ante-natal clinic, dialysis treatment, cancer day ward with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Acute Fracture Unit (UHL) and vaccinations in the mass vaccination centres are continuing.
The Emergency Department (ED) at UHL continues to operate 24-7, but is very busy. Members of the public are reminded to consider all care options – GP, GP out-of-hours, pharmacy, Injury Unit) and only attend the ED in an emergency.
On Monday, May 31st, a record 291 patients attended the ED at UHL. This was followed by 261 attendances on Tuesday, 265 on Wednesday and 235 on Thursday. Average daily attendances during 2019, the last full year pre-pandemic, stood at 197.
Dr Joe Kelly, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, UL Hospitals’ Group, has admitted staff continue to struggle with the after-effects of the cyber attack and ongoing issues around accessibility and stability of our IT systems have slowed down our processes in the department.
“This is resulting in delays at almost every step of the patient journey, from registration to seeing a nurse or a doctor; from getting an x-ray done to the results of a blood test becoming available.
“We have set up workarounds to keep our patients safe but our work has slowed down considerably and we expect to be suffering the effects of this hack for a number of weeks to come.
“It is vital that people who do need the ED continue to come such as suspected heart attacks, strokes, other serious illnesses or accidents. People with less serious injury or illness can expect to experience delays and we would ask them to consider the alternatives to ED where that is appropriate,” Dr Kelly said.
Patients attending our Emergency Department or Injury Units are advised to bring any information with them that will assist hospital staff while their IT systems are down. This could be any document or record, which includes the patients Medical Record Number (MRN) or Patient Chart Number (PCN). This information is usually on a sticker on hospital documentation, or on medications or prescriptions, or any hospital discharge information from a previous time spent in hospital.
As restrictions are eased around the country and people look to enjoy the outdoors this Bank Holiday weekend, the group are reminding members of the public that their Injury Units are open seven days a week, including Bank Holiday Monday. Injury Units in Ennis Hospital and Nenagh Hospital are open from 8am to 8pm and St John’s Hospital from 8am to 7pm.
Patients are advised to pay attention to updates as the group expect that services are likely to be further disrupted early next week.
Updates on service disruptions will be posted to the HSE Service Disruption Website https://www2.hse.ie/services/hospital-service-disruptions/hse-it-system-cyber-attack.html and on the following twitter accounts @ulhospitals and @hselive
The group apologises to patients who are experiencing delays and disruptions to our service as a result of the cyber attack.