Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has criticised some law firms for “licking their lips” at the prospect of law cases against the State as a result of the cyberattack on the HSE and potential release of data of patients.
“I have seen some legal firms already advertising, potentially licking their lips at the thought of being able to sue the State,” he told Newstalk Breakfast show. “I find it very distasteful — we have been attacked as a nation, our patients and the HSE have been attacked.
“There are serious GDP laws in place which, obviously, we comply with. We saw the same with the vaccine programme, we had online materials being published by law firms talking about future law cases that patients would be able to take against the State.”
Asked if what the law firms were doing was legal, the Minister said presumably it was legal. “If there are cases that can be taken then people have a right to take those cases, but certainly I find that when we are in the middle of trying to get urgent health care services back up and running for sick patients, I certainly find it very distasteful that any law firm would be putting stuff up on their websites to that end.
“Some of them have done the same on the vaccine programme as well unfortunately it does seem to be a facet of at least a small part of the country that we live in.”
Meanwhile, the HSE has warned people to expect “significant delays” at emergency departments as disruption caused by the cyberattack continues.
“Please only attend if you need urgent care,” the HSE said in an update on Wednesday evening.
Most hospital appointments are still going ahead as planned but many x-ray appointments have been cancelled.
Most community health services such as disability, mental health, primary care and older people’s services are operating as normal, along with Covid-19 vaccinations and tests.
However, there may be some delays in Covid-19 test results.