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Medical Council writes to doctors to address ethical concerns after cyberattack

The Medical Council has today written to every doctor in the country to address some of the ethical concerns that doctors may have and to express its support for the medical profession, and all those working in the health service, in the face of this unprecedented attack on our services.

Medical Council President, Dr Rita Doyle, said: “This attack on our health service coming after what has been an exhausting and challenging 15 months for all those working in the health service is deeply concerning for the Medical Council.”

“These are exceptional circumstances, and the Medical Council wishes to express its support for doctors who continue to provide medical care in these challenging times.”

“Over recent days we have been engaging with our stakeholders and doctors around the country as the full impact of this attack becomes clearer.”

“We ask doctors to prioritise patient care and to persevere, to the best of their ability, in safely delivering services for patients and to engage with the risk mitigation approaches being taken in workplaces and organisations affected by this attack.”

“This will be difficult, and the Council recognises that working in these situations may be very stressful. We urge doctors to remain engaged and to seek and refer to guidance from the HSE and from your professional organisations as appropriate.”

“Once again I am proud to call myself a doctor. I am proud to witness the speed and innovative thinking being deployed across the health service in the face of this unprecedented challenge, to ensure patient safety remains the priority, the same innovative thinking and collaborative spirit that saved so many lives during the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“To patients I ask for your understanding and patience. Doctors will continue to care for you to the best of their abilities in the circumstances they find themselves.”

“To doctors, please have patience with each other, support your colleagues and understand that there may be greater impacts on some branches of the profession. Collegiality in the circumstances we find ourselves is vital.”

“Most importantly I want doctors to continue to care and look after themselves in these challenging and stressful times to ensure they are well enough to safely care for their patients. Please seek help or support if you need it,” concluded Dr Doyle.

Medical Council CEO, Mr Leo Kearns, stated: “We know that the impact of the cyberattack will require doctors to change some work practices including but not limited to the areas of record-keeping, diagnostics and communication methods.”

“This may involve working in areas and in unfamiliar circumstances without the usual supports provided by IT infrastructure. This will be difficult, and the Medical Council recognises that practice in these situations may be very stressful.”

“We advise doctors to follow relevant guidelines, as well as the Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics, as far as is practical in the current climate.”

“Emergencies and unusual situations will arise. The Medical Council encourages doctors to follow their professional judgement and assess risks to ensure that, to the best of their ability, patients receive safe care.”

“We expect doctors to act responsibly, and reasonably and to be able to explain their actions and decisions if required. However, the Medical Council also acknowledges that this is an unprecedented time, and that challenges will arise.”

“With the progress made in the last 24 hours we all hope that normal services will resume sooner than initially expected.”

“The Councils thoughts are also with those ICT security specialists from multiple State agencies and private companies working around the clock to address the impact of this attack and resume normal services as quickly and safely as possible for the patients of Ireland,” concluded Mr Kearns.

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