23 May 2021

Waikato DHB cyber attack: Hospital under pressure as computer system still down

6:13 pm on 23 May 2021

An increase in people going to Waikato Hospital's emergency department has prompted a reminder to the public to stay away unless it is a real emergency.

Waikato Hospital

Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

The hospital still has no working computer system following Tuesday's cyber attack.

The Waikato DHB said just over 200 people presented to the emergency department (ED) in the past 24-hours, slightly higher than normal and it is increasing pressure on staff.

Executive director of hospital and community services Chris Lowry said the longer the IT crisis goes on, the public start to think services are returning to normal.

She said staff have to use manual systems, which adds to the pressure.

''We do have the ability now to access the national system for patient numbers, but everything else is manual and because of that it is the ability to manage the patient and track what is happening to the patient that takes longer."

Lowry said non-urgent patients in ED face a very long wait.

Waikato DHB chief executive Kevin Snee (left) and executive director of hospital and community services Chris Lowry.

Waikato DHB chief executive Kevin Snee (left) and executive director of hospital and community services Chris Lowry. Photo: RNZ

Anyone injured in an accident and where getting them to hospital is regarded as time-critical, will still be sent to Waikato Hospital and not outside the region.

Lowry said trauma patients will always be given priority.

''We are currently reviewing however with our head of trauma what we need to have in place should we a mass-casualty or a significant number of patients come in at the same time because that will put pressure on both the emergency department and radiology."

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The DHB said on Sunday that its five hospitals have functioned well and are coping with demand over the weekend.

DHB chief executive Kevin Snee said good progress is continuing to be made in bringing computer systems back online.

He said the work will continue into the coming week and possibly beyond as they restore services using a carefully phased approach.

"The focus is on prioritising our services so that the ones of highest clinical priority will come on first which will have the biggest impact on patient care."

He said the DHB has been working with the National Cyber Security Centre and are in contact with other organisations that have had similar problems.

"We have been mostly focused on working with our own cyber security agencies who have a lot of experience in this regard."

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