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HSE examines extent to which patient records were compromised in cyberattack

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The Health Service Executive (HSE) is currently examining to what extent patients’ medical records are among data that has been “compromised,” as a result of the major cyberattack, which has curtailed many hospital services.

Paul Reid, HSE chief executive, said officials were currently trying to determine “what level of data may have been compromised” in the ransomware attack.

The standard approach from criminal groups behind such cyberattacks was an “double extortion” attempt, to both withhold the hacked data, and also threaten to publish it online, unless a ransom was paid.

Mr Reid said the HSE was confident it had secure back-ups of all the affected data from its IT systems, allowing it to “rebuild” the infrastructure.

Work was currently looking at what systems could be brought back online, “in a safe manner one by one,” he told RTÉ’s Saturday with Katie Hannon show.

The cyberattack had been “very significant and sophisticated,” and was being dealt with by the highest level of the intelligence forces of the State, Mr Reid said.

There had been cases where organisations had paid ransoms to cyber criminals, and the data had not been returned, he said.

While the referral system for Covid-19 tests via GPs was down, people with symptoms could attend any testing centres across the country, and no longer needed a prior referral, Mr Reid said.

Close contacts of positive cases, who previously received a text, would now receive a phone call from contact tracing teams, he said.

The vaccination programme was continuing “at pace”, despite the cyberattack, and remained on target to administer more than 250,000 doses by the end of this week.

People in their 40s would hopefully be able to book their vaccine appointment by the end of next week as well, Mr Reid said.

Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan and Minister of State Ossian Smyth had a briefing on the cyberattack from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) on Saturday morning.

The Department of Communications said the NCSC was committing its “full resources” to respond to the hack, and was in contact with international partners and private contractors.

“This work will continue throughout the weekend with the focus on supporting the HSE’s recovery process in order to minimise disruption to services,” the department said.

The cyber security centre has also issued advice to other State operators of essential services to guard against any repeat attacks.

Effects

The health service will likely be impacted by the effects of the attack for the next week, as a senior Health Service Executive (HSE) official has said hospital IT systems are “some way off” being restored.

Dr Clare Faul, director of St Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network, said the cyberattack was having “a significant and ongoing impact” on services.

The IT shut down had led to radiation treatment centres ceasing services in St Luke’s, Beaumont and St James’s Hospital.

“We initiated a plan to treat all urgent patients in the private sector, which commenced on Friday and is continuing . . . We are doing everything possible to get our systems ready to treat patients with radiation again next week,” she said.

Anne O’Connor, HSE chief operations officer, on Saturday said it was in the “early stages” of rebooting some of the foundational technology, but were “some way off” having the main systems back up and running.

At present it would be at least several days before health service and hospital IT systems returned to normal, she said.

“We are definitely working on several days at the minute, and that’s if it goes well. The system at a wider level will be impacted we believe for this week,” she told RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor Show.

“Yesterday a decision was taken to shut down all of the systems, really to protect the whole infrastructure, as of now there’s been a lot of work overnight,” she said.

“We have been working since early yesterday morning to determine first of all the impact of this attack across the board, and to see what systems are working,” she said.

On Friday, the HSE said it would not be paying the ransom demanded by the cyber criminals behind the attack, who are believed to be a criminal gang operating in another country.

It is understood the exact amount being sought in the ransom is not clear, according to one senior official.

Procedures

Several hospitals moved to cancel outpatient appointments and elective procedures in the wake of the cyberattack.

One major problem was the lack of diagnostics and access to previous test results, while the systems remained down, Ms O’Connor said.

“A really big problem here relates to diagnostics, so our whole imaging system has been affected by this . . . We have no access to previous scans, no access to previous blood results,” she said.

Hospitals had returned to pen and paper for processing results from bloods and other lab tests. “We’ve gone right back to years ago, we’ve got literally runners in the hospital bringing pieces of paper around with results,” said Ms O’Connor.

There were “different scenarios in different parts of the country,” with some hospitals more affected than others, she said.

Some voluntary hospitals were not hit as hard as a result of the HSE shutting down its IT systems, while other hospitals had been forced to cancel most outpatient appointments.

“The important thing for us is to not cancel things if we don’t need to . . . We are prioritising urgent and time-dependent work,” said Ms O’Connor.

The HSE’s online system for booking Covid-19 vaccine appointments had been restored on Saturday, meanwhile the administration of vaccinations was largely unaffected by the cyberattack.

While some appointments, such as chemotherapy and dialysis services would continue, there were widespread cancellations of others such as x-ray appointments and radiology services.

The HSE has warned delays should be expected as hospitals attempted to move to offline manual processes.

Health officials were unsure if a tech issue in Beaumont Hospital identified on Thursday was also connected to the ransomware attack.

Members of the public have been advised by the HSE that updates about changes to appointments and services will be published on its website.


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Where are the most expensive streets in England and Wales?

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The most expensive street in the country has been revealed as Avenue Road in London, where the average house price is £30.5million.

Avenue Road is in the affluent area of St John’s Wood in north west London, and it is lined with multi-million pound mansions.

The road is a main corridor into central London, leading into Regent’s Park. It has caught the eyes of wealthy buyers in recent years and is dubbed one of the city’s ‘most desirable destinations’.

This six-bed detached house is in the most expensive street in England and Wales - Avenue Road in St John's Wood, London - and is for sale for £27.5m

This six-bed detached house is in the most expensive street in England and Wales – Avenue Road in St John’s Wood, London – and is for sale for £27.5m

The most expensive streets in the country have been revealed by Lloyds Bank

The most expensive streets in the country have been revealed by Lloyds Bank

Avenue Road has good access to transport links and local amenities, but it has managed to escape the traffic congestion that makes other expensive roads in the capital less appealing.

But perhaps more importantly is that Avenue Road has been one of the few thoroughfare’s in the area where wealthy buyers can still snap up substantial plots of land in recent years – up to an acre – that are big enough to accommodate the ‘trophy homes’ they desire.

It means that even relatively ‘small’ and outdated properties on Avenue Road are seen as premium purchases, as buyers are often able to knock them down to make room for even bigger – and more valuable – homes in their place.

Buying agent Henry Pryor said: ‘Homes on Avenue Road go for mega bucks. Why? Because this is where one-upmanship is practiced at Olympic levels. 

‘The people here never settle for second best so the homes that are currently for sale are more expensive than the ones that have been sold – but they in turn will be eclipsed by the homes that are now being planned.’ 

Avenue Road replaces last year’s top spot, Ilchester Place in London’s Holland Park, where homebuyers last year could pay around £17million for the luxury address.

This eight-bed detached house in Avenue Road, London, is for sale for £25m via estate agents Glentree

This eight-bed detached house in Avenue Road, London, is for sale for £25m via estate agents Glentree

One of the most expensive streets is Ilchester Place in London's Holland Park (pictured)

One of the most expensive streets is Ilchester Place in London’s Holland Park (pictured)

The second most expensive is Tite Street in Chelsea, with an average house price of £28,902,000

The second most expensive is Tite Street in Chelsea, with an average house price of £28,902,000

Avenue Road’s impressive new entry, along with others in this year’s list by Lloyds Bank have reached the top following only a few lucrative transactions on these sought-after streets.

The second most expensive is Tite Street in Chelsea, and has an average house price of £28,902,000.

It is followed by South Audley Street where a home among the Mayfair Christmas lights will set you back £22.85million on average.

Holland Park’s Ilchester Place at £16,583,000 and Holland Villas Road at £15,815,000, are in fourth and fifth place respectively.

Pictured: Grosvenor Crescent in London's Belgravia is one of the most expensive streets

Pictured: Grosvenor Crescent in London’s Belgravia is one of the most expensive streets

All of the top 10 most expensive places to live are in London, with the prestigious areas of Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster dominating the list.

However, the capital is being challenged by the South East in the rest of the top 20 most expensive streets in England and Wales.

The priciest properties in the South East are now an average of £5.6million, up from £4.4million in 2019, according to Lloyds Bank.

Seaside location Christchurch Road in Bournemouth has entered at number 16 this year, with properties in the area costing £6,264,000 on average.

Andrew Mason, of Lloyds Bank, said: ‘It comes as no surprise that London continues to rule the roost of the country’s prime property market, however we are seeing a marked growth in prices in the south east and across other UK regions. 

‘The average house price, in the most expensive streets in the South East has risen by over a staggering £1million in the past year.

‘Elsewhere your typical home on Wales’s most expensive street this year is just shy of £2million, compared to last year’s top average of £900,000. 

‘Meanwhile the new priciest street in the North is located in Windermere, where your average home will also cost you north of £2million, up from last year’s mean price of just over £1.5million.’

This six-bed detached house on St George's Hill, Weybridge, Surrey is for sale with a guide price of £14.5m

This six-bed detached house on St George’s Hill, Weybridge, Surrey is for sale with a guide price of £14.5m

The most expensive streets in each region…

North 

The top two most expensive streets in the North are in Windermere – Old Hall Road, which has an average house price of £2,508,000, followed by Newby Bridge Road at £1,533,000.

Five of the top 10 most expensive streets are based in Newcastle Upon Tyne – with Montagu Avenue being the most expensive at £1,225,000, four in Windermere and one in Durham.

North West

In the North West, all the expensive streets are in Altrincham, Macclesfield, Knutsford and Alderley Edge.

Barrow Lane in Altrincham is the most expensive street with homes selling, on average, for £3,706,000 followed by Green Walk at £2,763,000 and East Downs Road at £2,475,000 – all in Altrincham.

Bradford Lane at £2,375,000 and Withinlee Road at £2,336,000 are both in Macclesfield, and complete the top five.

Yorkshire and the Humber

The most expensive street in Yorkshire and the Humber is Linton Lane in Whetherby at £1,906,000, followed by St. Georges Place in York at £1,645,000, and Fulwith Mill Lane in Harrogate at £1,644,000.

Ling Lane in Leeds at £1,425,000 and Driffield Terrace in York at £1,375,000 make up the top five most expensive streets in the region.

West Midlands

In the West Midlands, Old Warwick Road with an average house price of £2,278,000 and Rising Lane at £1,868,000 – which are both in Solihull – and Cherry Hill Road at £1,850,000 in Birmingham, are the three priciest addresses.

These are followed by Temple Road in Solihull at £1,817,000, Ladywood Road in Sutton Coldfield at £1,694,000 and Liveridge Hill in Henley-In-Arden at £1,629,000.

East Midlands

Benscliffe Road in Leicester is the most expensive street in the East Midlands with an average price of £3,288,000, followed by Ulverscroft Land, also in Leicester but at half the price, with typical values at £1,644,000.

Cour D’Honneur in Oakham at £1,588,000, Wollaton Road in Nottingham at £1.57million and Warren Hill in Leicester at £1,547,000 complete the top five.

East Anglia

Streets of Cambridge dominate the 10 most expensive in East Anglia. Most of these streets are close to the main university area in the CB2 and CB3 postal districts.

Chaucer Road is the most expensive street at £3,610,000 followed by Clarkson Road at £2.93million, Storeys Way at £2,585,000, Millington Rad at £2,351,000 and then Cranmer Road at £2,233,000.

South East

The region’s most desirable addresses are in the towns of Weybridge and Leatherhead. South Ridge in Weybridge is the most expensive with an average price of £7,125,000, followed by East Road, also in Weybridge at £6,643,000.

In third place is Montrose Gardens in Leatherhead at an average price of £6,272,000 and completing the south east top five are Birds Hill Drive in Leatherhead at £5,313,000 and Camp End Road in, Weybridge at £5,237,000.

South West

The most expensive streets in the south west are found in Bath, Bournemouth, and Poole. Christchurch Road in Bournemouth is the most expensive with an average house price of £6,264,000, followed by Bath’s The Circus at £3,117,000 and Kelston Road at £3,079,000.

Streets in Poole make up six out of the 10 most expensive streets, with Panaorama Road at £2,982,000 and Pearce Avenue at £28million completing the top five.

Wales

Benar Headland in Pwllheli is Wales’s most expensive street with an average price of £1,928,000. The most expensive street in the Welsh capital of Cardiff is Llandennis Avenue, where the average house price will set buyers back £1,803,000.

Most expensive streets in England and Wales 2020 
Street Name Posttown Region Postcode Average House Price £
2015-2020*
Avenue Road London Greater London NW8 30,500,000
Tite Street London Greater London SW3 28,902,000
South Audley Street London Greater London W1K 22,850,000
Ilchester Place London Greater London W14 16,583,000
Holland Villas Road London Greater London W14 15,815,000
Manresa Road London Greater London SW3 15,518,000
Tregunter Road London Greater London SW10 15,510,000
Grosvenor Crescent London Greater London SW1X 15,440,000
Chester Square London Greater London SW1W 15,400,000
Knightsbridge London Greater London SW1X 14,954,000
South Ridge Weybridge South East KT13 7,125,000
East Road Weybridge South East KT13 6,643,000
Montrose Gardens Leatherhead South East KT22 6,272,000
Christchurch Road Bournemouth South West BH1 6,264,000
Birds Hill Drive Leatherhead South East KT22 5,313,000
Camp End Road Weybridge South East KT13 5,237,000
Brooks Close Weybridge South East KT13 5,100,000
Virginia Avenue Virginia Water South East GU25 5,083,000
Hatton Hill Windlesham South East GU20 5,009,000
Fishers Wood Ascot South East Sl5 4,996,000
Source: Lloyds Bank         

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Portillo condemns ‘shocking’ role of Tory chief in new documentary

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One hundred years ago there was no US president willing to give a demarche (diplomatic warning) to the then British prime minister over policies on Ulster.

President Joe Biden’s public dressing down of current British prime minister Boris Johnson over his attitude to the Northern Ireland protocol has no precedent in US-UK relations.

A century ago, then US president Woodrow Wilson was against Irish nationalism, and his successor Warren Harding refused to interfere in what he regarded as the internal affairs of America’s war-time ally.

In 1921, Ireland was partitioned. According to former Tory secretary of state for defence Michael Portillo, much of the blame for this should be pinned on two Conservative party leaders – Lord Randolph Churchill, father of Winston, and Andrew Bonar Law, the Canadian-born son of an Ulster preacher.

It was Churchill’s exhortation that “Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right” that first stiffened the resolve of unionists to fight against Home Rule in 1886.

His support for Ulster unionism was not based upon conviction, Mr Portillo believes, but on the belief that the “orange card is the one to play” in domestic British policies.

However, it was the behaviour of the Conservative leader Mr Bonar Law which Mr Portillo states was the most egregious when it came to Irish affairs.

Documentary series

Partition 1921 is the third in a series of documentaries Mr Portillo has made about the decade of Irish centenaries, along with 1916 Rising: The Enemy Files, and Hawks and Doves, about the War of Independence.

The latest documentary, which focuses on how partition came about, is particularly scathing regarding the behaviour of Mr Bonar Law, who was Conservative party leader between 1911 and 1921, and prime minister for just seven months, between October 1922 and May 1923, when he resigned on the grounds of ill-health.

Mr Portillo said Mr Bonar Law’s conduct in stating there was “no length of resistance to which Ulster will go, in which I shall not be ready to support them” in 1912, was “shocking from the leader of his majesty’s loyal opposition. He is contributing to armed rebellion.”

Seen from the point of view of the Conservative party then, the Liberal Democrats, propped up by the Irish Parliamentary Party, were a “band of rascals besotted with remaining in office”.

Mr Portillo compares 19th-century British prime minister William Ewart Gladstone’s conviction that home rule was right for Ireland with that of Herbert Asquith (prime minister from 1908 to 1916) and his government, who were only implementing home rule to stay in office.

“The historians who contributed to the programmes tended to think not just that the Conservatives were supporting what the UVF were doing; the UVF would not have developed in the way that it did without unionist support.

“It wasn’t just about Ireland. It was about the British empire. If Ireland moves towards independence, how do you defend the frontier against India slipping towards independence?”

The Curragh crisis of March 1914 ( also known as the Curragh mutiny) in which dozens of Anglo-Irish officers preferred to resign their commissions rather than operate against Ulster showed the British army could not be “replied upon to do the government’s bidding”, the former British defence secretary concludes.

‘Parliament has spoken’

This was a major constitutional crisis for Britain, he continues. “Parliament has spoken. Parliament has legislated for home rule and home rule is on its say.”

Mr Bonar Law’s calculations though were correct, Mr Portillo explains. “Bonar Law was absolutely confident … that the nerve of the government would crumble before their [the unionists’] nerve would crumble.”

The Home Rule Act was shelved in September 1914 and never implemented. It was replaced by the Government of Ireland Act (1920), which partitioned Ireland.

Among those who Mr Portillo interviewed for the documentary were former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Jonathan Powell – one-time adviser to former British prime minister Tony Blair – and former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, who states in the documentary that the issue of partition was as live now as it was 100 years ago.

Mr Adams points out that the Government of Ireland Act was only repealed by the Belfast Agreement in 1998.

Mr Powell said he hoped the Belfast Agreement would make Northern Ireland politics boring and about bread and butter issues, but that Brexit had made it about identity again.

The documentary ends on a pessimistic note. Mr Portillo says British government policy in creating partition was intended to placate unionism.

“The Border is no longer permanent but contingent on referendums on either side of the divide,” he states.

“It is hoped that after so much bloodshed, the question of removing the Border is approached with more wisdom and sensitivity than at its creation.”

Partition 1921 is to be broadcast on RTÉ One at 9.30pm on Monday, June 14th.

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SPAR continues to grow its Italian portfolio

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SPAR Italy continues to expand the network of its neighbourhood stores. One of the latest additions to the portfolio, the INTERSPAR Hypermarket in Belvedere Marittimo (Cosenza) has recently reopened its doors following renovation. The new look-and-feel of this store is part of SPAR Italy partner Maiora’s store renovation programme that will continue throughout 2021 in Calabria.

 

Gruppo 3A, the SPAR Brand license holder for the Northwest of Italy, has welcomed a new DESPAR store in Alba, a renowned culinary and wine-making city in Cuneo province. SPAR Italy partner Aspiag Service has recently opened a new DESPAR store in Rosolina (Rovigo), a coastal town below Venice. On a sales area of 800m², of which 500m² are dedicated to food, the store employs 25 team members, including 15 new hires. In keeping with SPAR’s environmental commitment, Aspiag prioritizes environmental sustainability and local community while opening new stores in the region.

 

Paolo Ambrosini, Aspiag Service sales area manager for the Veneto region, said: “Our goal is to be close to people and the environment. For this reason, we are entering a partnership with a local charity that will distribute unsold goods also from this new SPAR store to support our local community and its most vulnerable members.”

 

On Friday 21 May 2021, a new EUROSPAR store opened its doors in Castelrotto (Bolzano). The renovated EUROSPAR Dolomiti store is operated by brothers Robert and Filip Stuflesser, SPAR independent retailers who own SPAR stores in Ortisei and Fie. The local community has welcomed EUROSPAR Dolomiti, with its vast assortment, local products, fresh food, and excellent delicatessen department.

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