23 Aug 2021

Cyber attack continues to cause delays in Waikato DHB

9:40 am on 23 August 2021

The Waikato District Health Board still doesn't know how big the patient backlog is, after it was hit by hackers three months ago.

Waikato Hospital

The cyber attack affected systems at Waikato Hospital (pictured) and Thames, Tokoroa, Te Kuiti and Taumaranui hospitals. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

The ransomware attack in May brought the DHB's hospitals and services to a grinding halt for days, as it tried to restore its IT systems.

While all services are up and running, staff are still using manual workarounds in some areas, a DHB spokesperson said.

This means some processes are still taking longer than usual - including reporting on Covid-19 testing and vaccinations.

"The impacts of this cyber attack are expected to be ongoing as work continues to restore full functionality and address the issues caused by the outage," the spokesperson said.

"We were able to restore those systems which are most widely used across our services within a relatively short space of time and are now focused on standing up those remaining applications which have smaller user groups or were not part of our initial clinical priority groups."

The actual delivery of Covid-19 vaccinations and testing is not affected by the cyber attack.

The DHB is also still working on inputting the backlog of manually collected data into the system.

Once this is done, the DHB will have a full picture of any clinical backlog.

But it said it has already been trying to get on top of that, with extra resourcing brought in.

"Like many hospitals around the country, demand has been high through this winter period, particularly with a spike in RSV cases. This did require considerable resource but has now stabilised," the spokesperson said.

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