27 May 2021

Waikato DHB stolen data sent to media including RNZ

7:03 pm on 27 May 2021

Confidential patient and staff information stolen in last week's ransomware cyber attack on the Waikato DHB appears to be genuine, the chief executive says.

District Health Board chief executive Kevin Snee. 19 August 2016.

Waikato DHB Chief Executive Kevin Snee. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Files were leaked to four media organisations, including RNZ on Monday evening.

Waikato DHB Chief Executive Kevin Snee said the files are now being examined to identify the information on them.

''We have examined all the data that appears to have been sent to a number of media agencies and it does appear to be genuine.''

He said the DHB will be making contact with anyone identified in the data.

''When this has been completed, to meet our obligations of notification and provide support to those individuals if necessary.''

He said, so far, the DHB has received eight calls to its 0800 number with concerns about privacy.

''Generally the issues they want to know about were about whether their data had been accessed, how will they know if the data has been accessed, when will they know and also wanting more information about what they might do to protect themselves .''

Dr Snee said work to restore the IT system is making good progress and is substantial.

"There are 680 servers to be worked through and many thousands of devices. This is a complex process and that work we have to insure that when they are set up, they are safe and are safe to be connected to the wider world if you like.''

He was expecting significant progress over the next few days.

Radiation therapy and oncology has been escalated to a national level response with patients being sent to private clinics in Tauranga and Wellington and urgent cases to the Auckland DHB.

Almost all patients have now been contacted.

The Chief Executive of Te Aho o Te Kahu, the Cancer Control Agency, Diana Sarfati said 73 patients, who were in the middle of receiving radiation therapy, have been contacted and were either receiving treatment or a plan is in place to.

''For patients that are currently on the waiting list to start radiation therapy, someone in the team will get in contact with them to a make a plan with them and there are about 121 patients in that group and I expect those calls will be made within the next few days.''

She said restoring cancer services is the top priority.

Diana Sarfati

Diana Sarfati Photo: Supplied

''A huge amount of work is going on round the clock to get that sorted as soon as possible. Cancer centres around the country are pulling together to support Waikato and at this stage we are aiming for all patients disrupted by this event to be treated within New Zealand.''

The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, which represents many doctors at the Waikato DHB, said the computer crash was making already busy jobs much harder, which is adding to workplace stress.

ASMS Executive director Sarah Dalton described it as a great leap backwards and akin to what it was like in the 1980s.

''There's the added stress of making sure that people aren't being missed or forgotten or just falling through a paper-based crack.''

She was worried about waiting lists growing even bigger.

''Before Covid, there were waiting lists and overload on the system and, because of Covid, it has become greater. In Waikato, the length of time to wait for care is becoming longer again, so it's just really becoming critical.''

DHB Hospital and Community Services director Chris Lowry said health and safety teams are working with staff to support them in what are very challenging times.

''[We are] regularly going around all of the clinical areas, or all of our areas actually, to just check on staff well-being and we have also made sure that we are co-ordinating a list of staff, additional staff who are able to help out across the organisation, so that we can either provide additional resource to assist with workload, or to cover staff relief, so we are watching that very closely.''

Health Minister Andrew Little is visiting Waikato Hospital on Friday.

Waikato DHB procedures/patients (all hospitals)

Emergency Department Presentations

  • 24 May - 297
  • 25 May - 301
  • 26 May - 294

Elective Surgery

  • 24 May - 90
  • 25 May - 111
  • 26 May - 125

Acute Surgery

  • 24 May - 35
  • 25 May - 36
  • 26 May - 47

Clinics (Outpatients)

  • 24 May - 1883
  • 25 May - 2236
  • 26 May - 1809

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