26 May 2021

Cancer patients affected by DHB cyber attack should be sent to Australia - Collins

12:22 pm on 26 May 2021

Cancer patients should be sent to Australia if they cannot be treated here as the Waikato DHB continues to try and get back online after last week's cyber attack, National Party leader Judith Collins says.

No caption

Judith Collins says the government is right to reject any random demands. Photo: Dom Thomas

Currently those scheduled for medical treatment are being sent to private hospitals in Tauranga and Wellington because the cyber attack has put radiotherapy equipment out of action. But spaces at those facilities are limited.

The DHB's Hospital and Community Services director, Chris Lowry, had previously said clinical staff were worried about how to handle new referrals.

This may include sending patients to other DHBs and possibly to Australia.

"So the clinical teams are raising that as an option. We just need to make sure we have worked through insuring we can use all available space within other cancer centres, without displacing any of their patients before we then look at that, and that would certainly be looked at from a national perspective," Lowry said.

National Party leader Judith Collins told Morning Report everything should be done to treat patients, including sent them off to Australia to get treated.

Collins also said the government was right not to pay a ransom to the cyber criminals.

"The moment you start paying you set yourself up for every other DHB and every other private organisation ending up being hacked and we've seen it earlier this year with NZX and other private organisations that were clearly under tremendous stress," she said.

"You've just got to hold firm. I think you get the cancer patients either treated in New Zealand or fly them to Australia just to get that done, and do not ever give in, otherwise the whole of the system becomes vulnerable."

However, she said the government could do more to protect key government infrastructure by acknowledging the growing threat of cyber terrorism and acting on it.

"I think you can always do more and you might recall when we were in government we authorised the Cortex system, which was essentially around some of the bigger businesses, but I think that the whole issue of cyber security is now significantly more important than it was even five years ago."

The government's 72-hour travel pause with the state of Victoria following the emergence of a cluster of community Covid-19 cases in Melbourne was also an appropriate measure, she said.

"It's an example of the trans-Tasman bubble working properly, which is when there is any concern whether in any of the states in Australia or in New Zealand, that it be put on hold until that concern is dealt with."

Collins said she was concerned about a slip on border security standards and protocols because she had discovered a mixing of travellers coming from high-risk 'red zone' countries and those from low-risk 'green zone' nations at New Zealand airports.

"That's happened three times in the last month. That is the sort of issue that should not be allowed to happen and that is something where the government has been less-than-transparent about," she said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs