31 May 2021

Waikato DHB systems restoration timeframe still uncertain after ransomware cyber attack

7:01 pm on 31 May 2021

Computer services remain offline at all Waikato DHB hospitals nearly two weeks after a ransomware cyber attack brought it all to a grinding halt.

District Health Board chief executive Kevin Snee (center) - with Dr David Sinclair (left) and Dr Andrew Burns (right) - talking to media. 19 August 2016.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The DHB said that while good progress was being made to restore all IT systems, it would not commit to any timeframe.

Over the weekend a small number of elective surgeries were carried out and outpatient clinics held.

Clinics and surgeries were expected to again run at about 80 percent capacity this week.

DHB chief executive Kevin Snee fronted the media today, starting by acknowledging his staff.

"Thanking all staff who kept patients safe over the weekend and staff who worked to maintain services, including those staff working hard behind the scenes helping keep things going."

He said priority areas for the restoration of IT services included, radiation therapy, lab systems, radiology for imaging and the patient management system.

"There's still a bit of way to go in a number of these areas before we have functioning services. It's one thing to bring services online, to bring the servers on line, and then you have to make the servers ready. For example, in relation to radio therapy there is quite a number of things to calibrate the machines and so on. They are quite complicated pieces of kit. That is going to be done through out this week."

Snee said the majority of people identified last week who may have had their personal information taken by the hackers had now been contacted.

"It's obviously been made a little bit more difficult because we don't have full access to all our systems with patient information, however we are continuing to investigate the files but we are not able to give any numbers at this point, but we are continuing to review the files and come to a judgment about what data has and has not been accessed."

A special helpline set up to deal with anyone who had concerns about their privacy being invaded received 24 calls over the last five days.

Snee warned against opportunistic scams in the wake of the attack.

"People sending emails on the hope that they will be able to scam you - we have to be mindful of that.

"Equally, we have heard stories of people who have been contacted by our services who have then said we are not sure whether you are scamming us, so they have called us back and we have been able to confirm that this is actually the hospital contacting them. People are obviously alert and we are absolutely encouraging that."

He said that while they were counting the cost of the cyber attack, they were not yet adding it up.

"I think that is for a later date, we are just making sure we identify and itemise any additional costs."

Snee said all DHBs had insurance for cyber crime.

"The resources the insurance companies have put alongside us to help with these matters ... obviously with any insurance there is a kind of limit of cover, so I think we will just itemise everything and have a discussion when we are through the other side of this."

The DHB said all discharges were being manually noted and notes were sent to patients' GPs.

It said downloading information to electronic files was part of a recovery process, but it could not estimate yet how long that would take.

Waikato DHB procedures/patients (all hospitals)

Emergency Department Presentations

  • 24 May - 297
  • 25 May - 301
  • 26 May - 294
  • 27 May - 291
  • 28 May - 283
  • 29 May - 297
  • 30 May - 290

Elective Surgery

  • 24 May - 90
  • 25 May - 116
  • 26 May - 132
  • 27 May - 104
  • 28 May - 62
  • 29 May - 9
  • 30 May - 0

Acute Surgery

  • 24 May - 35
  • 25 May - 36
  • 26 May - 47
  • 27 May - 47
  • 28 May - 45
  • 29 May - 24
  • 30 May - 19

Clinics (Outpatients)

  • 24 May - 1883
  • 25 May - 2236
  • 26 May - 1809
  • 27 May - 2175
  • 28 May - 1707
  • 29 May - 123
  • 30 May - 31

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